21 February 1999 | cujimmie
Strangeley appealing serio-comedy
"This Year's Love" (18) - Warner Village Cinema, Inverness - 19 February 1999
Whatever it is, this film will never be classified as coming out of the Beatrice Potter School of Charm Cinema. It's rough and rude, immoral and bawdy, slap-stick and frightening and dispiriting. Yet I liked it!
It certainly isn't the sort of film your vicar or grannie would want to be seen watching but I defy anyone to sit through the two hours of sexual relationships without laughing out loud in spite of themselves at the below-the-belt humour, wondering all the while if life is really like this in Camden Town. It's a film that lingers over such sights as tattooing and bed hopping, coke snorting and boozing and annual partner shuffling. It covers three years of the partnership permutations of six individuals. What they all have in common is a need for affection, a fantastic command of swear words, a terrible need to empty all booze glasses and fag packets, desire for self destruction, and a denial that there is any future to look forward to.
There's no real plot. It's the sparks coming from the rubbing together of the fascinating dysfunctional characters that lights the tinder. We start off with Scotsman tattooist Douglas Henshall storming out of his wedding reception when he discovers that his wife of ten minutes, Scotswoman dress designer Catherine MacCormack, has been "practising" with his best man. He takes consolation in the arms of Heathrow Airport cleaner, Kathy Burke. We switch to Scotsman Dougray Scott, untalented artist with the paint brush, who makes a play for anything in skirts with "fine bone structure". In spite of his problems with personal hygiene - you can smell his hair from the first row in the balcony - he is the next to form a liaison with Kathy Burke. When Jennifer Ehle arrives on the scene it's as an upper class single mother with a permanent need for a bit of rough. She lives alone in a barge, wears Doc Martins and dreadlocks, disowns her posh background. We've heard that story too often for it to be original and this thread is a weak link in the chain of relationships. Nevertheless it serves to introduce the sixth shy nobody character, Ian Hart, who turns out to be the one who terrifies you out of your seat when he loses his control. There's a bit of lesbianism thrown in and the writer director, David Kane, reveals his roots and social leanings when he does a hatchet job on the upper crust at a cocktail party. He don't like 'em. That's fer sure, fer sure.
I would hate to think that Camden Town as portrayed in this film represents the folk that live there, or anywhere in UK. Of course it doesn't any more than Coronation Street represents Manchester or Stendaz represents the east end of London. It's knowing that these warped and flawed characters are cartoons that makes the film acceptable. It's their dialogue and delivery that makes the film so enjoyable. And there's an added educational bonus. Your personal database of taboo words and base picturesque expressions will be expanded enormously. Even Channel 4 junkies will find novelties here. Let's say 8* out of 10. Maybe even 9.
C U James