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An intense and interesting short but obviously not much development

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
2 May 2005

A teenage boy asks his dad for the lend of £20 to go out with his friend to watch the 'pool play. When he is refused unless he helps his dad do the paving in the front yard, the boy challenges his father to "gutwallops" in return for the cash. The "game" involves the boy taking punches in the stomach but yet remain standing; bringing out strong emotions between the two – both stubborn in their own way.

Part of a collection of short films that came out of Liverpool as part of a FilmFour funding programme, this is a strange affair that is more about the intensity of the emotion than it is about logic and narrative. To that end the film does quite well as it delivers a weird form of anger moving between father and son which gives way to a strange sort of stubborn respect. It is difficult to understand if you have come from a certain type of family situation but there are many fathers who do treat children with a form of resentment rather than affection and find it easier to hit than hug. The film takes this and shows it for what it often is – the male inability to lay out emotions as they are and often having to build a macho (read "aggressive" or "hard") front within their relationships.

The cast deliver this well despite the script requiring them to conceal their motives and emotions in order to be convincing. The direction makes it (literally) hard hitting and very intense, which works well because that tensions is exactly what usually comes with this sort of relationship. Overall the film is short, difficult and seemingly just a load of punches with no story or reason. However, to those that relate, it is an impacting and tense story and the lack of development is a problem but one that can be lived with.

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