Film Review: Brakes

As comedy-heavy casts go Brakes takes some beating. Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, Julia Davis, Steve Oram, Oliver Maltman and Seb Cardinal as well as Roland Gift, Paul McGann and Kerry Fox are among the familiar faces that crop up in this story of various relationships starting and stopping. Anti-romcom if you like. Or Brake-ups.

The twist is that we see their stories in reverse. So we start with the pain of the split before halfway through the film folds in on itself so that we see the varying joy, optimism and thrill of each relationship kicking off.

Firstly a quick spoiler alert. Anyone hoping for a full-on Mighty Boosh reunion will be disappointed. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt appear in separate storylines. Fielding is a Soho hipster and soccer fan having a tentative relationship with Layla (played by Mercedes Grower, the film's director). Barratt is in a difficult relationship with Raymond (Oliver Maltman) that he thinks can be smoothed over with the gift of ice cream.

Elsewhere Roland Gift and Kerry Fox play the token middle class, conventional couple who have lost the initial spark and are drifting apart, while Kate Hardie and Paul McGann play lovers who may or may not have a future together. And Julia Davis finds herself being chatted up by entertainment industry wannabe bigshot Alan (Peter Wight).

The concept is not entirely original. Harold Pinter's Betrayal (which was pastiched in the Seinfeld episode The Betrayal) told the story of a single relationship backwards. But there is plenty of charm here as each mini-narrative is teased out. The style is loose - if it isn't totally improvised it frequently feels that way. Brakes might be set in London but it's much more like Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise than Truly, Madly Deeply. There's no hopping along on the South Bank here, just Julian Barratt carrying an ice cream.

Brakes is out now.



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