“ Genre: Comedy / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Will Sharpe, Tom Kingsley / Actors: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley, Will Sharpe ... / DVD released 2012-04-16 at Black Pond Films / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Chris Langham
Genre - Drama
Run Time - 83 minutes
Certificate - PG13
Country - U.K.
Awards - 1 BAFTA nomination.
Available - Fim4 online.
Amazon -£8.77 DVD
Download - Free on Film4
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Chris Langham - 'Everyone wants to see me working again but no one wants to hire me'
So, with most presenters faces blurred out on repeats of Top of the Pops 2, is there any way back for Chris Langham, a fellow TV pedophile? Although no kids came forward and said this guy went near them, the act of downloading some rather horrible videos online in 2005 had not seen him work again and so branded as. As we found out with that guy from Coronation Street, association and accusation, rather than the actual physical act, is damaging enough. I have no sympathy for Langhams stupidity and curiosity but the guy deserves another chance. This movie is that chance. He is a really talented comic actor and now we know why his moon face has that haunted look. Nobody chooses to be attracted to kids. If Leslie Grantham, the guy who played Dirty Den in Eastenders, can be redeemed through TV - and loved - after shooting a West German taxi driver in the back of the head back in 1966 for a few Marks, for which he did ten years, then why not Langham?
Black Pond maybe Chris Langhams low-key unwanted return for many but it's the arrival of the exciting writing talent of 24-year-old Will Sharpe, who was nominated for a BAFTA in the 'Outstanding Debut by a British Writer' category for this one. The association with Langham probably cost him the chance to go up on stage and receive the award that went elsewhere but certainly a kid to watch.
Will and young director Tom Kinglsey managed to put this together for just £25,000 and how interesting and dark Black Pond turned out for that money, a bit like Langham, presumably why he was cast. So broke was Langham after no work for 6 years he had to live in the house featured in the film, owned by Will Sharpe's parents. Did you know Langhams first film appearance was way back in 1979 in the Life of Brian as a 'giggling guard'?
Chris Langham ... Tom Thompson
Simon Amstell ... Eric Sacks
Amanda Hadingue ... Sophie Thompson
Colin Hurley ... Blake
Will Sharpe ... Tim Tanaka
Anna O'Grady ... Katie Thompson
Helen Cripps ... Jess Thompson
Bernadette Russell ... Mad Rita
Bonzo ... Boy the dog
Middle-class 50something Tom (Chris Langham) is out walking his dog 'Boy' (Bonzo), minus his dog. Boy has had an operation and has only two legs now and so back at home on the sofa in the warm. But a man needs to get away from his wife on the daily walk and so walk he does.
On that walk Tom breaks into awkward conversation with an odd little man, Blake (Colin Hurley), who he befriends. Blake, and to some extent Tom, are battling their demons and Blake invited back to the house for tea and sympathy. Tom's wife Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) is happy for the company and Blake ends up staying the night. The Thompsons have two daughters who have left home and Blake is going through a tough divorce from his wife Rita (Bernadette Russell) and so why not.
The next day Blake doesn't endear himself to the family by drowning the family dog in the nearby lake, known as 'Black Pond', two-legged dogs on wheels not designed to swim. Upset the family decides to bury the dog in the woods. But when Blake also has intentions of departing this world in their company they may have to dig another hole in the woods, a scandal about to break in the stockbroker belt from an innocent but unusual event.
Everything about this movie is awkward. The message is as dark as its star - normal people can be abnormal at times. The movie is not necessarily some kind of metaphor for Langhams actions but that's the way it ends up. This film may not have much story or reason but it has a quirky edge and something new to say on the mid life crises and so worth the view. When the kids have fled the nest and your career is winding down (the remaining meaning in life) and it and you in need of some oil in the joints people can get lost and do silly things.
The film is amateur in a wobbly camera way but wobbly camera is in so you don't notice. The edit is a wee bit choppy at times but once the camera is on Langham's face it's forgiven. That voice and face is unique on film and TV. There is a lot of clutter in the movie for comedy effect, like the daughters unneeded entrance into what little narrative there is and the comic turn from Simon Amstell, who plays a sadistic psychiatrist who likes to take the p*ss of his patients, again his presence oblivious to the plot and momentum. Writer Will Sharpe also writes himself into the story with a similar oddball role. But when it's just the three main middle aged actors on screen the sparks fly and some sort of midlife crisis metaphor is going on to enjoy.
I'm not giving any plot twist away with the reveal of the dog and Blake's death as that is revealed early on through flashback and talking heads, and on the dust cover. This film doesn't really have a story to tell around dead dogs and oddballs to be honest but a simple mechanism for the writer to show his young talent. I think he was quite cute casting Langham as it would at least get the rather obscure film some attention and get the writer the plaudits. The idea of a pedophile up on stage to collect any award is not going to happen any day soon in the U.K, unless she was 14 and you are Roman Polanski, of course.
Imdb.com - 5.8/10.0 (445 votes)
Metacrtic.com - % critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - % critic's approval
Guardian - 'Langham's performance may not rehabilitate his career. Perhaps nothing could do that. But Black Pond is really good: haunting, melancholy and strange'.
Daily Telegraph -'You get your money's worth of surreal quirk but also pleasingly awkward comedy in this plucky Britflick, the dark tale of a family who bury a complete stranger'.
Little White Lies -'An assured debut with great performances and a wonderfully odd brand of British humor'.
This is London -'The message of the film is that normal people can be abnormal at times. One wishes there were more abnormal British films such as this'.
Super reviewer -'All I will say about Langham is he has always made me laugh in everything he's been in. However, had I known Simon Amstell was in it, I might not have bothered'