30 July 2004 | bob the moo
An enjoyable meaningfully but depressingly bleak look at poverty and society
Rudy and Alice are homeless and they are drunks who live on the streets of a Scottish town, in a rundown and depressed area. Rudy interrupts some thugs threatening another drunk and sends them off but, for the laugh, the oldest boy locks another in an abandoned fridge. Unable to get the door open to let him out, Rudy and Alice try to get help and keep the trapped boy alive until someone can help him out.
As a simple story about a boy trapped in a fridge this is an effect and urgent little film that gripped me until the end due to its pace, brutal energy and the life that was at stake. So as a sort of slum-set race against time it works well, however if this is all you think it is then you have totally missed the point. The film works best as an allegory for poverty and the boy in the fridge is not the only person trapped and needing help. At times it makes this point a little heavily but mostly it is clever and spot on. Rudy and Alice are trying to help the boy but everyone they turn to turns a blind eye and it is up to the poor to help themselves (when it would have been so easy to call for a fire engine). The sense of feeling behind this message is powerful and it left a real impression on me as a result.
The film is unrelentingly bleak and it does not try to make anyone look good even when Rudy is trying to save the boy, a squabble over drink takes precedence over the rescue. However those in the houses are also treated badly they close their doors and ignore the problem in the same way as they ignore Rudy and Alice living on their street, scrounging money for drink and beaten and dirty. The film captures this really well in terms of content but also in terms of look as the cinematography is superb. Washed out black and whites may not be everyone's cup of tea but it conveys such a great sense of poverty that you can feel it. Lewis does really well although you have to wonder why Mullan didn't take the role himself given how similar Lewis came across to him. The rest of the cast are very real and you can't help but feel for Alice who has found herself taking tenners to take bottles up her rear just for another drink. Like I said bleak in the extreme.
Overall this is a really great short film that is impacting on several levels but mostly as a depiction of poverty and the trapped nature of those on the streets and trapped in alcoholism. In terms of plot, script, direction, location and cinematography the film makes this point with almost every frame and I will find it hard to forget this film.