Monday, 19 October 2015

BFI Film Festival - Burn Burn Burn

Coming to the end of the festival, I couldn't have planned it better, in terms of films, or worse, in terms of travel. The last two films I saw ended the festival this year with a bang.

Having to trek out to deepest darkest East London on a Sunday morning was not what I wanted to do to be honest, but when I read about the film in the programme, there was something that made me make the effort. I think it was that it was about two friends going on a road trip to scatter the ashes of their recently departed friend. Another attraction to the film that, yes, I noted it was written by a woman and directed by a woman. This was the only film I picked knowing these details. Plus, its a British film. I had to see at least one British film at the festival or I would seem a tad ridiculous.
Alex and Seff, two close friends are bequethed the ashes of the friend Dan who has died from cancer. He sends them on a road trip around the UK to scatter his ashes with a video to accompany them. While trying to come to terms with the loss of their close friend, Alex and Seff have to come clean about a few other truths about themselves. Alex, who keeps secrets and has just witness her long term girlfriend cheat on her. Seff, a failing actress taking a nanny job that her devoted boyfriend got her. She is dealing with the fact that she might not love him afterall either.

With British names in comedy appearing for a few scenes along the journey really made the story feel like a road film. The writing was pitch perfect, with comedy from the likes of Sally Phillips stepping in with a crazy accent and then Alison Steadman who has one of the affective scenes the film bringing the emotional balance and shwoing the heart of these characters. Laura Carmichael and Chloe Pirrie as Seff and Alex are a great duo, not quite polar opposites but they work of each other creating a very believable friendship.
Written by Charlie Covell and directed by Chanya Button, this is the debut feature film from the latter and couldn't be more brilliant. Both creatives were present at the screening which happened to be only the second screening ever as the film had its world premiere the night before. The two are friends and obviously work really well together. They bounced off of each other and the audiences' reactions. They were not shy and answered everything and more, giving an insight to their work and just being genuinely funny people, which was brilliant to witness. At one point in the Q&A, Button and Covell took turns saying how much they loved Alison Steadman, also present at the screening, she addressed the audience saying 'I'm sure you're enjoying watching us gush over each other' and they continued to the delight of audience.
The usual questions were asked about the fact it was about two female friends and asking why Covell decided to write this story. Covell joked at first saying that she had a friend, Button, and that seemed like a good place to start. She went on to say, stories about two platonic friends aren't usually made. The stories usually involve a group and then a romantic angle. She explained that it was important that the relationship was platonic because this is what happens in life, these characters are relateable. It was also important that the relationship between Alex, Seff and Dan was also platonic as, Covell pointed out, you do have friends that you are not attracted to. Of course this got a laugh from the audience its true, films that show what life is like are not made often enough.

As quite a few audience members said, more of this please, great female characters on screen being who they are. I feel myself gushing now, but I do think this film is brilliant and I really hope its distributed so you can see all the fuss I'm making.

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