The film follows the journey of comedian Gary Shand in his quest for celebrity status and recognition from his peers and comedy fans. He's not the world's luckiest guy and winning his battle against depression, alcohol and on coming mental illness whilst trying to be successful on stage means that his life is a roller coaster. Written by
I was given a screener a couple of months ago and for one reason or another it has sat on my desk until now.The screener was entitled 'The Limelight' and I knew from hearing about the film that it starred Eastender's Ricky Grover and Show Me The Funny winner Patrick Monahan but that was the extent of my knowledge of the film and my interest was pretty low hence my hesitance in watching.
Tonight I watched this obviously low budget black comedy and I have to say, my ribs are still aching.
Having watched the film I then read the literature that accompanied the screener and see the film is the directorial debut feature for John Robson and Glen Maney. It would appear that the film is based on a script by Mr.Maney, who is himself a stand-up comedian of some experience. The film certainly gives the feel that it has drawn on some inside knowledge of the world of comedy.
The film follows the trials and tribulations of ageing comedian Gary Shand played by Glen Maney himself. The comedian is suffering from depression, a family break up and what appears to be an increasing reliance on alcohol and mental health issues associated with his depression and lifestyle.
His nemesis in the story is his own manager, the decidedly unpleasant Al Moran,played by Ricky Grover. The manager seems to delight in pushing younger stars such as Shaun Bollinger played by Patrick Monahan, whilst destroying Gary's career.
I felt the one weakness in the whole plot was that I was left asking 'why is a manager so nasty to his own act?' but as the film went on I put it down to the fact that Moran is just a nasty piece of work and that suffices to paper over one of the odd cracks in the storyline.
Why did I just accept this? A mercurial comedy performance by Ricky Grover, that's why. Grover has the screen presence and timing to pull off being a nasty individual whilst still being funny. Lines such as 'Gary Shand? No he's terminally ill..he has been for ages I don't know.Chlamydia or whatever the f**k you call it' whilst hanging upside down on an exercise machine, actually reduced me to tears of laughter.
A fan of Ricky Grover's 'Bulla' character from years back I was largely disappointed by the watchable but disjointed and in my opinion not great 'Big Fat Gypsy Gangster' but his performance in this film sees a definite return to form. There must surely be television opportunities for Al Moran.
His performance is only eclipsed by that of the film's writer and main performer, Glen Maney. I'd heard the name but couldn't put a face to it. Having seen his performance in this low budget treat, I can't see that being the case in the very near future. Great things must surely await him based on this performance.
Maybe assisted by the fact that he wrote the script,Maney puts in a convincing and seemingly effortless performance as the sad figure of the hapless Shand. He seems so at ease in the role that I was totally convinced by the character and this is another reason you buy into the film's occasionally patchy plot.
The chemistry between Grover and Maney on screen is a delight to watch. Without giving away too much of the film. There's a retribution scene that's a comedy goldmine that both performers mine perfectly. Al's sacking of his secretary for misinforming Gary is a delight to behold and again had me laughing out loud.
Most performers in this film seem to have a chemistry on screen together. Barman Adrian played by the experienced Mark Monero as well as psychotic barman 'Chuck' played with great comic effect by one of my favourite comedians, Craig Campbell, steal their scenes from Gary's character, something that helps the film flow and it appears that Robson and Maney are quite happy to let that happen. It certainly works and again shows an in depth appreciation of comic timing that you don't often find on film, even in those with gigantic budgets.
Mr.Ali played by another stand-up comedian Jay Sodagar is a brilliant character and one I'd like to have seen more of. It's a support role but it's again a support role that keeps the laughs flowing.I love him following Gary to see if he's spending his rent money on beer and he is literally ducking up and down in between parked cars. Such a funny scene.
Patrick Monahan does enough to be convincing as younger comedian in the Moran stable and I must say that Sonya Roseman who plays Shand's love interest, an ex-escort who has come into money by sleeping with old men, is both convincing and very easy on the eye.
Not that it's a complete laughter fest. It is indeed what it says on the tin. It's a black comedy and some of the darker moments have you feeling real sorrow for Gary Shand.
I also like their documentary feel way of shooting. I like the way you feel you're opposite and 'near' the characters. The film has a unique style of it's own which I like. They are not afraid to experiment. Most of the time. It works. I'm not a fan of some of the sequences that were obviously sped up but as these are few and far between it's knit picking.
I also have to mention the soundtrack which I found to be pleasant on the ear. The music is matched well in every scene and for a low budget that's rare. Many of the songs on the soundtrack, I would buy. I've bought worse !
So to sum this film up, it's obviously low budget but it's one of the funniest films you'll see ever, if you like your comedy dark.
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