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The Low Down [DVD]
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In modern-day London, twentysomething television prop-maker Frank (Aidan Gillen) constantly mediates between his quarrelling partners, Mike and John. Seeking to find a place of his own to live, Frank is shown round some properties by estate agent Ruby (Kate Ashfield), and the two begin dating. His relationship with Ruby forces Frank to recognise a need to move on with his life and put down some roots, but is he ready to settle down just yet?
The territory explored by Jamie Thraves in his feature film debut The Low Down is hardly new: late-20-something faces crisis over settling down/growing up/moving on. But it's the laid-back, improvisational way he deals with the subject that makes it compelling. Frank (Aidan Gillen, in altogether more introspective mode than Queer as Folk) is beginning to realise he's outgrown the bohemian fantasy of his art-student days, tiring of the squalor of his surroundings, the drug dealers next door. It's only with the appearance of the more optimistic Ruby (Kate Ashfield), whom he meets when she shows him round various flats, that he actually gets the impetus to change his life. The tentativeness with which Frank and Ruby get together, hovering between insecurity and desire, is acutely observed, while his relationships with friends and fellow workers (he's a TV prop designer, which makes for some good visual gags), by turns laconic, pissed-off and hilarious, are disconcertingly true to life.
Gillen and Ashfield are terrific, but so are the supporting cast--particularly Dean Lennox Kelly and Tobias Menzies as friends Mike and John. The Low Down is a thoroughly absorbing film, its emotional edginess highlighted by the hand-held camera and by the freeze-framing to distort time. The effect is quirky and inviting rather than annoyingly arty, and Thraves is clearly one to watch.
On the DVD: The Low Down on disc has a featurette with just under eight minutes of excerpts. There's a commentary on the film, plus a brief sample of fly-on-the-wall footage in "On Location". Don't get overexcited about the promise of Cast and Crew Interviews, though, since they are very soundbitey and not very profound (for example, Jamie Thraves on making his first feature film: "I've felt more relaxed than I've ever done"). And of course there's the usual theatrical trailer. --Harriet Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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when he makes an unenthusiastic trip to an estate agents and she makes a half hearted attempt to
sell him a flat she describes as pokey. Their social group consists of some bloke out of Shameless
and an assortment of characters with mind numbing conversation. In 2000 we had the Millennium dome,
Millennium bug, the New Labour government, a great music scene post Britpop and good dance scene
briefly shown 70mins in, but there is no mention of this. Dalston/Hackney is about to take off , theres been
previous attempts such as 1988 Olympics bid to help this. However, this pair are unaware of the digital revolution
or dot com boom. They don't even mention the launch of Phil and Kirstie on Location,Location, Location.
The way this shot is a cross between a kitchen sink drama and French new wave, but this feels more 1970s than 2000s.
It's just real man, and to capture that on film well is just beautiful. The feeling of being a fly on the wall of these familiar conversations or awkward situations that you know you've been in before is just so erm... 'interesting'!!
The best thing about owning this product, is re-watching it. The convenience of experiencing the story by simply re-watching a plastic DVD, is one of the reasons I love life. I think as time passes I will enjoy it even more and nostalgia will deepen for the symbolic takes of environment it presents in 2000.
This isn't a movie, it's film and should be appreciated as an art piece to be experienced like Janet Cardiff's work for instance. I think you'll get the most from this if you have ever been a student in London. The Low Down [DVD] 
The difference, I suspect, is one of identification with the characters' semi-slacker existence and the nuances of twentysomething friendships.
Aidan Gillen, best known as Stuart from Queer As Folk, stars as Frank, a props maker approaching a crossroads in his life. He has all but outgrown his student-flavoured life with its squalid accommodation, juvenile jokes, and dysfunctional mates but has yet to admit the fact to himself.
Director Jamie Thraves opts for a naturalistic, new wave style, and the dialogue is largely improvised. Thanks to his universally excellent young cast, the gamble pays off handsomely.
There is precious little in the way of plot but, then again, The Low Down isn't about the telling of a story - it's a wonderfully observed, achingly bittersweet requiem for young adulthood.
Thraves certainly cannot be criticised for a lack of realism. If anything, Low Down is actually too realistic in the way Frank and Ruby's relationship is portrayed - full of unspoken emotions and confused reactions. But, given the lack of a strong narrative, and some superficial character development elsewhere, the subtlety in Gillen and Ashfield's turns here (the latter being particularly good) only serves to weaken viewer engagement. In general, the acting elsewhere is at least solid, with Frank's co-workers, Dean Lennox Kelly's 'resident comedian', Mike, and Tobias Menzie's waster, John, (between which two characters Thraves skilfully develops an increasingly fractious relationship) both engaging, whilst another friend, Rupert Procter's Terry (a man with a dark past) delivers a subtle, naturalistic performance.
Visually, the film is always interesting, with some nice framing shots and lingering close-ups from cinematographer Igor Jadue-Lillo (particularly of Mike & Co.'s colourful props - giant hand and 'clown' face) - albeit he rather overdoes the hand-held camera at times (whizzing between his subjects). Thraves also includes some rare moments of more direct emotional drama - such as Frank and John's visceral encounter with a drunken yob in the pub (serving to reinforce the pair's retiring insecurity) and that between Frank and a 'girl beggar' (offering sex) - and, indeed, the film could have done with more of this. Had Thraves 'beefed up' this content and had a more memorable ending it would probably have pushed up my rating by another star. Having said all this, Thraves is certainly a film-maker worth keeping tabs on.
As an aside, Thraves' film is another whose '18' certification confused me - surely some swearing and brief full-frontal (male) nudity doesn't warrant such a draconian restriction?
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