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on 25 February 2006
Friends and Crocodiles shares the strengths and the weaknesses of Poliakoff's other work. Its strengths lie in the direction, acting and music, all of which are utterly exquisite.
Sadly, they only serve to emphasise the weaknesses. A big problem I have with Poliakoff is that he is a good director but a poor writer. He has lots of big ideas and set-pieces and knows how to make them look good on screen, but he can't really marshall them into a coherent plot. We have here the usual Poliakoffian themes of families, change and memory, but they're filtered through an oddly detached and piecemeal story. Damian Lewis's instinctive entrepreneur and Jodhi May's ambitious neurotic move in and out of each other's lives over the course of 20 years. Other people pop up now and again as well, to remind them of their pasts. It's as well that the two central characters are reasonably interesting, as nobody else is really allowed to have any substance (even Robert Lindsay, who just bumbles about in the background, and apparently also appears in the film's companion piece, Gideon's Daughter).
Because of the disconnectedness of the plot, things happen that are clearly meant to be of great consequence but which, because the whole thing feels like it's done at a remove, merely prompts a "so what?" and a shrug of the shoulders (a feeling ironically echoed in the story when Lewis's character, after months of paid research into the next big thing, summons everyone to hear his findings and just says "bookshops"). Characters open their mouths and say words, but none of it feels like real dialogue, but rather said for effect.
Friends and Crocodiles is about the themes mentioned above, yet at the same time is about very little indeed. It's agonisingly slow (more happens in an average 5 minutes of Shameless than in all two hours of this film - Steven Poliakoff hasn't really adjusted to the speed of modern drama), contrived and - worst of all - emotionally empty. It didn't make me laugh, cry, feel angry or anything really, except a rather dull disappointment. Naturally, it'll have been drooled over uncontrollably by TV critics who still wet themselves at the mere mention of the words "Brideshead" and "Revisited", but whilst they might have been sated I was left hungry and needing something with bite.
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on 27 January 2006
is friends and crocodiles that good? you may ask, absolute brilliance is not a title i,d use normally but this time it sums up exactly what your eyes have just feasted on, the acting is sharp witty and fun, the settings out of this world ( i challenge you not to think about its location setting of stateley home for days afterwards ), the story compulsive, a better 109 mins of dreamful entertainment cannot be had, do yourself a favour and watch, and enjoy
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on 16 January 2006
To be very honest, I saw this movie on the Beeb yesterday evening...
The story is partly romantic, partly dramatic. It has a clear backdrop; the early '80s with Thatcher in Downing street, punk and the rise of New Labour, global corporations and management-speak. The settings are beautiful, especially the rural feel in the first half of the story. The atmosphere (a typical Poliakoff-strength) is very nice and it's easy to get absorbed into the surroundings and the story. Pity it's 'just' a feature length movie, not a series (so it hasn't got the detail and depth of Perfect Strangers). And I'm a bit surprised there aren't any extra's on the DVD.
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on 14 September 2015
a very enjoyable look at life in the 70's and 80's and well cast
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on 5 February 2016
Quite a complex story. some good acting thou
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on 5 June 2015
Brilliant film fantastic service
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on 11 November 2007
It seems to me that viewing this particular work of Poliakoff is similar to being escorted to an exclusive first night art exhibition by an elitist clique of positively pre-disposed critics. You will be told that you are about to behold an undeniable work of genius, which only a philistine could fail to appreciate. You will then gaze long and hard at the work on display, at first nodding your head sagely... but after a while... perhaps half an hour... wondering if there's something you're missing under the continuous dull hum of the display lighting.

Surely you're being stupid... it's probably a matter of finding the right perspective...any moment now you'll see the light, the beauty will reveal itself.

But no - try as you might, no epiphany... instead, the dull background drone begins to sharpen into a nagging voice laughing at you, telling you, louder and louder that you've been duped into wasting all this time staring hopefully at an overblown canvas covered in intricate doodles, brightly coloured sploshes and drunkenly weaving lines of varying length and thickness - presented in a glossy frame in a suave, stylish boutique which really has no discernable message or merit at all.

Ok - some pretty good actors were doing a pretty decent job with some pretty forgettable dialogue, but all in all, this sumpuous visual feast was a meaningless waste of my viewing time which ultimately left me feeling empty.
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on 29 November 2015
Poliakoff at his best!
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on 5 May 2006
Stunningly beautiful to look at but strangely empty at its core.

There seemed to be too many jump-cuts between scenes, and I, for one, would have appreciated knowing what years the successive scenes were supposed to be set in (if only to guage the passage of time better). There are only two mentions of "time" - when Paul reminds Lizzie that she has worked for him for a year and in a later scene when Lizzie tells Paul "but that was 18 months ago". Perhaps, the drama would have benefited from being longer than its 100-odd minutes. There was just too much to squeeze in! Robert Lindsay (among others) was wasted in this production. "Our Friends in the North" it ain't!
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on 12 December 2015
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