Truth and Movies

Treacle Jr

Review by Emma Simmonds @EmmaSimmonds

Directed by

Jamie Thraves

Starring

Aidan Gillen Riann Steele Tom Fisher

Anticipation.

Jamie Thraves has been one to watch for some time, Aidan Gillen has clout, but has anybody been waiting for this?

Enjoyment.

Hugely likable, funny and charming.

In Retrospect.

In an already strong year for British film this isn’t quite ambitious enough to stand out.

In an already strong year for British film this isn’t quite ambitious enough to stand out.

Like a warm summer’s day in the arse-end of town, Jamie Thraves’ self-financed third feature is the genial, economical story of an unlikely but touching friendship between a disillusioned middle-class man and a cheerful chancer.

It begins when, without apparent warning or explanation, gentle giant Tom (Tom Fisher) walks out on his family and seemingly comfortable middle-class existence. He travels to London and, after an altercation with a tree, encounters – and unintentionally befriends – Aidan (Aidan Gillen) in the emergency room.

Managing to be spectacularly irritating, disarmingly friendly and highly comical, Aiden is an odd-job man living hand-to-mouth who, to Tom’s initial chagrin, takes to following him around like a loyal but noisy hound.

The film’s dalliances with brutality and realism are troubling reminders of just how deluded and vulnerable Aidan is. For instance, he’s involved with an attractive woman – Linda (Riann Steele) – his girlfriend in name only, who beats him and unashamedly uses him for cash. A mark of her degeneracy is that she is first glimpsed by Tom having sex with a menacing character in a graveyard.

Treacle Jr. is abundantly charming but, like Aidan, a touch too simple. Linda, for example, is little more than a villainous harridan and although Tom’s ambiguity is nicely essayed by Fisher, this lack of psychological illumination can on occasion frustrate. In its down-and-out outsider’s view of London it recalls Mike Leigh’s modern masterpiece Naked, which unfortunately makes it look rather insubstantial by comparison.

Nevertheless, it benefits from a marvellous momentum, powered by its roving, fluid camerawork and deliciously fitting soundtrack, and the central performances are a joy.

While Fisher is likably hang-dog, Aidan Gillen (in a welcome departure from playing hubristic scumbags) is unexpectedly hilarious as an effervescent motor-mouth possessed with unshakable optimism. In this he resembles The Fast Show’s enthusiastic Mancunian teenager who finds everything ‘brilliant!’ – and together Tom and Aidan make for a pleasingly mismatched duo.

Entertaining but a touch slight, one thing that’s in no doubt is that Treacle Jnr’s heart is in the right place; it is, after all, a film named after a kitten.

Published 14 Jul 2011

Anticipation.

Jamie Thraves has been one to watch for some time, Aidan Gillen has clout, but has anybody been waiting for this?

Enjoyment.

Hugely likable, funny and charming.

In Retrospect.

In an already strong year for British film this isn’t quite ambitious enough to stand out.

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