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Low Down, The (2001, Aidan Gillen, Kate Ashfield)

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In London, Frank (Aidan Gillen) works alongside his friends Mike (Dean Lennox Kelly) and John (Tobias Menzies) making tacky props for television. Their mundane lives are dominated by petty worries that one or other are not working hard enough and Frank decides to change the pace and find his own house, leaving flatmate Terry (Rupert Procter) behind.

He is shown some properties by an estate agent Ruby (Kate Ashfield), and they begin dating. After a night of clubbing they return home and, with drunken candour, Terry tells the young couple he once considered suicide. So their lives continue unchanged, until Frank lends a desperate woman some money while his two workmates head for their own epiphanies…

In this inventive drama, plot is peripheral. Jamie Thraves learnt how to be laconic after helming Radiohead’s promo for Just, and has developed those skills for his second feature. ‘I suppose the film’s message is more in the gestures, in the things that aren’t said,’ he explains. ‘But I can see why that might be seen as a bit wanky.’

Yet there’s little pretension here, with the characters’ individual crises never adding up to much – their slacker existence is devoid of any political or social conscience, so absolutely typical of its time. Instead, the focus is on performance, with Gillen making Frank an amiable neurotic stuck somewhere between self-hate and self-confidence, the perfect illustration that in this world, less is more.

Basing the character on Nicholson’s lead in Five Easy Pieces (‘that whole idea of someone who’s really talented but thinks he’s not good enough’), Thraves approach also evokes memories of Cassavetes in that small dramas can, in the right circumstances destroy and therefore delight a broad audience.

production details
UK | 96 minutes | 2001

Director and Writer: Jamie Thraves

cast
Aidan Gillen as Frank
Kate Ashfield as Ruby
Dean Lennox Kelly as Mike
Tobias Menzies as John
Rupert Procter as Terry
Samantha Power as Lisa
Dena Smiles as Susan
Alicya Eyo as Paul Girl
Adam Buxton as Adam
Joe Cornish as Joe
Martin Freeman as Solomon
Maggie Lloyd Williams as Jean
Agnieszka Liggett as Anna
Dorian Lough as Squash Player
Paula Hamilton as Cashpoint Woman
Clint Dyer as Nathan
Rachel Isaac as Nicola
Elliot Levey as Peter
Liz Liew as Vera
Michael McKell as Pub Man
Alex Palmer as Pub Man
Vass Anderson as Pub Landlord
Alysha Westlake as Basketball Player
Anthony Warren as Corner Man
Paul Dungworth as Corner Man
Barry Dobbin as Corner Man
Michael Hodgson as Pub Man

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