13 October 2012 | bob the moo
Sexy in a nightclub
It is a lot of years now since I was last in a "proper" nightclub but I do remember my years working in work and feeling part of the places in a way that my mid-30's self really doesn't now. Anyway, at their best a club is loud with appropriate music (maybe not great music, but music that works in that context) and it creates a sense of feeling good and shared enjoyment that is quite a thing – people look good, nobody is self-conscious about their terrible dancing and generally people are enjoying themselves despite the fact that the night will probably not leave them with too much beyond the moment.
So, why am I talking about this? Well to me this film reminded me of that experience, even more so given that the spirit of the Olympics was still resonating around the UK. The film follows an athlete who is from the wrong side of the tracks and has limited resources but yet manages to make it onto the Great Britain team; challenges come in the personal and professional type, but can she overcome? Well of course the answer is pretty obvious and so goes the film because this is a product that is marketed to clearly hit a vein of Olympics fever. As a film it is pretty basic; I'm pretty sure that if you sped up all the slow-mo bits that it would run to 60 minutes, not 90, and that if you took out all the scenes that had recent UK pop music over it then it would probably be only half that again. However, it still works for what it is – a "of its time" feel good movie.
The film mostly focuses on low level set pieces, whether they be heavily sound tracked racing action or just generic social drama background – it is all filmed the same way; superficially and without heart. Indeed this is the core of the film – heartless and superficial; the characters don't ever appear as people, the scenarios are never fleshed out beyond the level of wallpaper and the film itself is keen to exist on this very simple level. In this regard it is of course weak – it never draws the viewer in but what it does do is provide simple stimuli in the construction. As a result the race is still engaging, the plot is still simply effective and it works. The cast are part of this as they play natural despite their paper thin characters and motivations. Crichlow leads the cast well – when the script gives her a little bit to work with she does it well, otherwise she is solid enough to carry it. James is not as good – a problem since she carries the weight for the tension; she doesn't convince and neither does that element of the plot. The supporting cast are generic but Graves, Benjamin, Burroughs and others do the job well enough for this. Clarke gets his face in again while Bradley James is good-looking at least.
Overall this film works as a simple crowd-pleaser but this is not to suggest that it has any merit beyond the superficial, because it doesn't. The soundtrack is as important as the cast and, while they do a decent job, the script never does more than provide wallpaper to the style and "feel" of the film. It does still work in the way that an ugly person looks good in the drunken euphoria of a nightclub – but, while it is fun in the moment, you don't want to be waking up next to this film.