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Elephant Juice comes from the pen of Amy Jenkins, creator of television series This Life, and while it isn't good, it's not all-bad.
It is a longstanding cliché that British television writers can't write for the big screen and think small. Jenkins, unfortunately, does nothing to refute this. There are even pointless headings for different sections of the film, like it has been split into seven episodes.
While there are lots of interesting locations, it cannot disguise the fact that it's still just people talking. The dialogue might be very good, but there's rarely anything important at stake.
This is less due to the poor plotting than the poor characterisation. And that in turn is due to Jenkins decision to have eight major characters. You simply can't have that many in a movie as there isn't as much time to find out about them as there is in a television series. There are two characters who are almost adequately drawn but the motivations for the others is barely there - if at all.
There is an incident in the last act that is a surprise but not in a good way. There is no reason given for the character to do what they did, so rather than being moved we simply don't care.
Two of the characters lose partners they cared about and react as if they'd lost a five-pound note. While it seemed bizarre and confusing at the time, in retrospect it was just so those characters could get together at the end with fewer hassles. It's not a feel good ending if everything that enabled it is totally unbelievable.
To be honest I preferred all the other This Life writers to Amy Jenkins but she does know how to write and there's the makings of a good film here as she clearly knows her world but it needed another couple of drafts at least.
The irony is the script was rushed into production before it was ready to cash in on the This Life success but because it was rushed both the co-investors, Miramax and Film Four, refused to distribute it. In fact Miramax subsequently closed down their UK subsidiary that produced this due to "creative differences".
This won't be in theatres for long but make up your own mind about it when it's on free television, where it belongs.
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