2 February 2003 | bob the moo
Aims for a sweeping romance drama but falls short
Ray is the foreman of a crew working for the electricity board on an informal, cash in hand basis. They have a few months to paint a 15 mile row of electricity pylons. Into this mix comes Australian back packer Gerry who joins the crew for some work. Ray and the much younger Gerry start to fall for each other as they work causing splits and disharmony within the crew.
I vaguely remember hearing reviews of this film when it was released but it didn't do well and was hardly in the cinemas for a week before it vanished. It popped up recently on TV and I gave it a go despite not hearing much good about it. It is actually not that bad but it is a long way short of The Full Monty.
The film seems to want to have some sort of gritty social dimension about it but this is no Ken Loach film and it doesn't come off. I didn't get any wider point about the class of these men that ran through the story. The serious side to the work that comes in later is not as strong as it needs to be and didn't carry enough weight. The main thing here is the confused romance between Ray and Gerry that didn't quite come off. The reasons for the difficulties in the relationship are not totally clear and the way it goes is not convincing, rather a bit dull and pedestrian. It has it's moments of potential beauty such as the cooling tower scene and tender moments between the pair, but these don't come off as well as they should.
I found this to be partly the fault of the cast. Postlethwaite is a reasonably good actor and Griffiths can be very good (check out HBO's 6ft Under) but they lack a real sense of chemistry that was needed to be realistic. The crew are all pretty good despite having not well formed characters. Postlethwaite needed to be stronger but he is a little lo-key when really he should have commanded the screen more, although his tact does work in the quiet moments.
The direction is good and Miller seems to like the wide Northern landscapes with all his swirling helicopter shots and fancy shots through the pylon structures. Add to this the haunting score and the film has a sort of other-worldly feel to it that the material can make good on. Maybe I just didn't get it and others may find this to be very touching, however I must admit that I never got emotionally involved in any of it and it left me feeling a bit dry more than anything else. It may have had potential on paper but on the screen it goes for a big drama but fails to satisfactorily deliver.