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Mesmerising meditation on young adult life
scream252812 October 2003
This is a suprisingly affecting, and understatedly powerful portrayal of growing up. Its a about the need for answers, finding our way and some role in life, as we begin to explore ourselves making the transition from young adulthood to the next unknown. Personally, to me, its about finding our place in the world and being contented with that. The film doesn't provide any answers though, just a breathtakingly poignant, some might say pointless examination into that stage in our lives. The film is stylistically directed. Certainly there are similarities to the work of the 50-60s by the french new wave of Truffaut, Godard and co, in its simple yet effective (and seemingly) improvised use of creative camera technique i.e. freeze frame, slo mo etc. The performances (apparently improvised - well some of it) are absolutley astonishing in their realism. All the characters have an amazing rapport and chemistry with each other - you really do believe they have been friends for a lifetime. Thraves is marvellous but no more so than the other cast. So realistic are they, that no doubt you will have met similar individuals at some point in your life.

A mini masterpiece of a debut from a promising director. 9/10
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Meandering, unamusing and devoid of self-awareness
Hack-16 February 2001
Best summarised as middle-class kidults slum it in NE London, this film would really have benfitted from a script which explored the characters rather than indulged their essentially predictable and uneventful lives. Relying far too heavily on improvisation, the director and the cast have forgotten that, although they might well like each other's company, it really isn't sufficient to record great stretches of repetitive, dull conversation and present it to the world as entertainment. It may sound realistic but anyone can sit on a bus in Hackney and tune in to snatches of dialogue - doesn't make it interesting. And this film desperately needs a point of view that highlights the evident absurdities of its protagonists, rather than accepting them at their own evaluation.

The actors look older than the immaturity of their roles would suggest. The female lead is passive to the point of pure stupidity - it's exasperating to watch. Could the actress really have had any input into the development of her character? Any self-respecting woman beyond the age of 15 would have put the male lead (her boyfriend) in his place for endlessly failing to show up and throwing chairs about when he can't have a drink - what a jerk. And why does the male lead have such difficulty in moving into a vast and expensive-looking flat? Most of us in NE London are still renting at 30 and would give up cheapo accomodation any day. Seems something of a spoilt boy dilemma as opposed to the rights of passage moment I think we are supposed to view it as. And where's all his money coming from? These blokes are supposed to be commercial artists - of a sort - but this aspect of the script is totally unconvicing. Anyone who works in that line of business would be baffled by the length of time (framed by the central relationship which we assume lasts a few weeks?)it takes two men to produce a couple of papier mache models.

As for the other characters, we learnt whether or not they were having a cup of tea and where you cold buy dope/coke. That's it. And honestly, there's better conversations going on in any pub in Dalston, any night of the week, and you don't have to pay to take part.

The sad thing is, the genre the director is working in is very interesting and the British film industry urgently needs to develop an identity of its own. So, we do need dramas that explore our own way of life in an inventive way. But this isn't going to be the start of the revolution.
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If your fidgety move on...
pesci1129 April 2004
A soft and subtle film that I found quite dreamy and languid. It doesn't knock you over but seeps into you. It is very English, and it's all about the characters and scenes which are very real. I found it a very natural film, where you didn't feel you were pushed along to a climax but were happy to be on a travelator with these characters. Film doesn't always have to be about escapism, where there are Tom Clancy storylines, glossy set ups and oohs, and ahs; instead this is a personal film which might make you think and feel.
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I Love It!!!!! (And Aidan)
aidenshot8612 April 2001

Okay, so maybe The Low Down isn't technically a `gay' film.

And to be honest, the shower scene isn't all that hot.

But, I just wanted people to read this because I think The Low Down is the best film I've seen in ages about the `stupid years' - that awkward time spent after college doing stupid jobs for stupid people. It's about dealing with responsibility, outgrowing old friends, and the "rest of your life.' Can't we all relate? Anyone who is (or has been 23-28 should see it!

Aidan Gillen (from the British Queer as Folk who is amazing) plays Frank, a young wanna-be artist whose life revolves around friends and work. He knows he needs to shift his life into gear but he's not sure how to do it. Some of his friends from art school are settling down. His indecision comes to a head when he meets Ruby (Kate Ashfield who will be a big star), a pretty rel estate agent whose approach to life and its problems has an effect on him.

The director THraves did that Radiohead video with everybody lying in the street, and Blur, Travis, and The Verve and approaches this bittersweet slice of life with a cool style in perfect balance with his group of friends whose lives are at a crossrods.

And if that's not enough for you..Aiden Gillen is NAKED. I LOVED this movie!
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Stunningly, horribly true
james_hurley25 April 2001
Jamie Thraves made his name directing pop promos, most notably the spellbinding video for Radiohead's 'Just', whose haunting imagery of a man lying immobile in the street won the MVPA Video of the Year award in 1996.

Unlike most music industry graduates, whose first foray into the world of feature films tend to result in a series of glossy, insubstantial, set pieces impersonating a rounded whole, Thraves has created a slow-burning and engrossing mini-masterpiece about a group of twentysomething friends making the final journey into adulthood.

The star of the show is Frank, played by Aidan Gillen, best known for his part as the arrogant, charismatic Stuart in Channel 4's controversial Queer As Folk. Here he is quite the reverse - quiet, introspective, somewhat emotionally detached, although the enigmatic aura remains.

He works with two college friends making props for television comedies (Adam and Joe make a brief cameo), lives in a semi-squalid flat shared flat in Dalston and exudes a vague, unspoken dissatisfaction with his lot. The truth of the matter, as gradually unravelled by Thraves, is that he has reached a point where student-like existence is no longer enough for him.

Matters are brought to a head when he embarks on a non-committal relationship with an estate agent called Ruby, played by Kate Ashfield. They are both well-versed in this sort of arrangement yet are clearly reaching a stage in their lives where it doesn't suit either, but his stubborn unwillingness to admit this proves problematic.

The Low Down is more about capturing a moment in life than it is about telling a story and for this reason the thinness of the plot is a positive advantage. Where it transcends countless 'coming of age' efforts is in its superlative script and the ingenuity of the camera work and editing.

By using the camera like a third party in the room (think This Life but less frenetic, more natural), Thraves liberates himself from a conventional approach. To this he adds a series of effects such as freeze framing a facial expression while letting the dialogue run on, which creates a heightened verite style more akin to remembering actual events than watching fiction on screen.

The dialogue, a good deal of which looks improvised, is remarkable, capturing the awkwardness, humour, and assorted nonsense of real conversation so accurately that it's a joyous experience to witness. Never is this better executed than in a scene when Frank and friends stagger home with a curry after a night on the town.

Drunk acting is fraught with danger but this is so real, so funny, so brilliantly observed (Dean Lennox Kelly's sozzled impressions of everyone from Billy Connolly to the Blankety Blank theme tune are outrageously good) that you'll believe you were there or, at the very least, wish desperately that you were.

The Low Down is funny, sad, moving, possibly profound and definitely unique. If you appreciate subtle, intelligent British filmmaking, you really ought to see this film. If you spent your early adulthood with a ragbag of humanity anywhere near East London, then you absolutely have to.
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Very slow-paced
mrkramer28 January 2001
I didn't enjoy this film very much. Despite the decent acting, the characters seemed bored and boring. I did enjoy looking at Aiden Gillen! However, the pace was glacial, and I was checking my watch every three seconds to see when it would be over. I still don't understand what the "conflict" in the story was, if there was any conflict. I certainly don't need explosions, but I do like to have at least an idea of where a movie's plot is going. I think the idea of a slice of life film is great, but this didn't keep my attention.
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Buy a goldfish, it will give you much more watching pleasure!
Piedreau26 August 2002
I just saw the DVD of The Low Down and it was time not well spent. I'd rather stand in line at the Post Office or buy a goldfish and watch that move around his bowl for a few hours than experience this movie again. There is no story in this movie, other than watching people live their ordinary lives and face their ordinary fears. The main characters are kept very shallow and the viewer has to decide what they are actually feeling. Not a very bad starting point for an intelligent movie if it weren't for the poor acting and even worse camera work. The feeling rises that a few film students have been given a camera and some government sponsored budget to create a picture about how complete losers live their lives. Too bad it was ever released... Rating is a 1 out of 5
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Not much ado about very little
paul2001sw-119 May 2006
The lives of a group of lonely London losers comes under the spotlight in Jamie Thraves' film 'The Low Down'. As a director, Thraves is very keen on breaking up the flow of images, and disconnecting them from the dialogue, a trick annoying enough when Soderbergh does it, but frankly plain odd in this film, which is otherwise unassuming and generally low-key. The script is good at the sort of dialogue spoken by people who don't really know each other very well, or like each other very much, but who pass the time in each other's company for the want of anything better to do, and there are some funny moments. But there's little real warmth on show, and little explanation provided for the characters's disaffection: pointless moody shots of overflying aircraft aren't really adequate for this purpose. Overall, it's a bit of a waste of the beauty of Kate Ashfield, and a forgettable movie.
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on the up
simonrosenbaum31 May 2003
This has a fresh "new wave" feel to it. It's filmed in an inventive and original style that makes it very watchable for most of its duration,

though there are influences, most notably Ken Loach with a hint of Mike Leigh on the acting side and Nicolas Roeg on the experimental way it's directed. It's not a total success it does seem to run out of steam towards the end, but it's still a very impressive first feature and hopefully the start of a long and interesting film career for the director. (7/10)
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Don't see this movie.
dolphinheadman18 April 2001
This movie was horrible. It was not interesting at all. They should have paid me to see it -- it was otherwise a waste of my time. There were a few funny bits in the movie, but that is all. The highlight is one of the main characters exploding in a fit of rage, and even that is grabbing for a high point.
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pedrodegreiff19 December 2003
The Low Down can be rated as an undeveloped good idea, not more not less.

The good side of this movie is the effort to capture an transmit the confusion of those years, but it falls hard on that, sometimes the movie captures the esense of that behavior, but those not transmit anything at all. After watching the 96 minutes I was like `so what?', not a single feeling about the film or the characters, characters that just wander, one does not know where they come, where they go, what moves them, you can not make any contact with them just watch the as watching a pst in the street.

I am waiting for the next movie to see where the director goes; it can be a very good thing or jus another empty presumptuous thing.
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A really heart-breaking 'personal' movie that rewards it's viewers
dolemite7222 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
What I love about THE LOW DOWN is the complete lack of narrative (which in turn becomes a narrative) The movie feels hyper real. As previously stated, there seems to be a real sense of lingering menace to the movie (not because of any great impending danger...although there's a few tense moments) I seriously can't find one scene that rings false. The end sequence, as Frank looks up to the aeroplane sent a shiver down my spine (and I can't quite put my finger on it) is it Frank thinking of leaving....Is it Ruby leaving....Is it a metaphor for time passing him by. As the credits roll (and Groove Armada's "At The River" kicks in) we're no wiser as to the future of Frank, primarily, because he isn't either.....and that (to me, anyhow) is the crux of the movie. We all seem to be travelling at different speeds in life, and sometimes we're either going too fast (or slow) for people (Partners, Friends, etc) to stick around. 

I think this is an amazing movie. Haters miss the point, when they say stuff like "It's boring" or "Nothing Happens" 

I don't expect everyone to like it (like I said it's all about "Different Speeds") but I'd hope at least they understand it? I feel biased towards the movie, because I can identify with the lead character. We're of a similar age, and I pretty much had similar experiences and friendships, during the timespace of the movie (I'm 43 now, and still plodding along, unsure of where I'm heading in life) Although I often find myself looking up at the aeroplanes. 
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Boring, trite, uneventful. Lacks passion, interest, and involvement. *1/2 (out of four).
Movie-128 May 2001
THE LOW DOWN / *1/2 (out of four)

By Blake French:

As I prepared to watch a video screener of Jamie Thraves' "The Low Down," I had my notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other-ready to jot down any comments or discrepancies I had with the film's quality. I sat down in my favorite, fluffy chair, ready for what the filmmakers say is a view "on life, love, and other four-letter words." The movie began. After a few minutes, the film almost entirely lost my interest. My mind began to daydream about what I needed at the grocery store later that week. Occasionally, I wrote down a little note about how the dialogue lingers, the characters drift, and the story wanders, but most of the time I was sketching little smiling faces in the margins of the paper; I was that bored. The film is only 93 minutes long, but, oh God, does it seems a lot longer than that.

It is sad when years can go into making a movie that does not contain a single iota of interest. As I watched the scenes fall flat, I felt sorry for the filmmakers. Writer director Jamie Thraves, who previously won awards for short films, music videos, and TV commercials, started making this movie in late 1998. "The screenplay changed a lot during the time I was writing it," explains Thraves in the publicity notes. "As a result, Frank (the film's main character) may be a little schizophrenic but I quite like that because that's how most young men are at that age." Thraves succeeds if he wanted to make a movie that feels so authentic its like eavesdropping on someone's private life. But the film is not entertaining or engaging.

For a movie like this to work, we need several things that this movie obviously does not have. The main character, Frank (Aidan Gillen), needs to lead an interesting life-this movie can be extremely well constructed, but if there is no significant reason to watch Frank go about his daily activities, there is no purpose in viewing the film. Frank, in his mid twenties, lives a rather boring life, spending most of his days working with bizarre sculptures and hanging out with his foul-mouthed friends. He does eventually get a love interest, but that story has no impact or chemistry. It lacks passion, affection, and not a whole lot happens.

"The Low Down" does manage to capture a good mood for the characters. Its style is kind of interesting, consisting of hand-held camera work shot on Super 16 film. The production is certainly spontaneous, and the actors do a good job of making convincing characters. Aidan Gillen, from TV's controversial "Queer as Folk," is full of energy and self-motivation. Kate Ashfield, one of Britain's most promising young actresses, provides a solid romantic interest for Frank to pursue. Some of the scenes work on a unique, bizarre level; one time the characters take out their aggression on a sculpture. This scene is played against a backdrop of mind-warping music. Scenes like this prosper from their unique texture.

Ultimately, however, this film fails miserably. If a movie is going to develop its characters through short incidences and quirky situations, then it needs to be breezy and energetic with ample wit. But no. "The Low Down" doesn't keep us interested in the quirky little romance. We never care enough about the characters to pay attention to the occasional humorous touch. There is simply no conflict here, no involving drama. If you're looking for a charismatic little love story, see "When Brendan met Trudy," also from The Shooting Gallery. That film had style, wit, and interest. This one just ganders from scene to scene with no aim or direction. The dialogue lingers casually. I realize this film is supposed to be a slice of urban life, but it's not a very flavorful one. In a specific scene the characters discuss the paint color of a gigantic statue of a hand. Could we care less? I don't really think so.
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Hilarious feature debut from Jamie Thraves
paul.tebbutt3 November 2000
I've lived in North London, and I'm a similar age to that of the characters in the film, so for me everything in the film rang very true. It's great to watch a film that truly comes out of a real culture, and very refreshing to observe real comments on life, rather than just recognise well worn stereotypes. The interaction of the group of friends - the lines that people in relationships spin, when they say one thing, but mean something entirely different. A great film - funny & warm, and highly recommended.
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A rubbish disappointment
spicy_demon3 March 2008
This film really is appalling. I was drawn to it because it had the gorgeous Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead) in it but after spending an hour and a half on watching this tedious dross I wish I hadn't bothered.

It meanders along to nowhere in particular and seems to have no discernible point to it or even a narrative. Most of the characters have nothing of interest to say and the camera-work is poor. The worst thing is that several scenes are directionless, some scenes end far to early and often characters don't say more - when they really need to.

I actually felt quite angry after I watched this film because it's annoying low-level indie rubbish like this which actually holds back the British Film Industry from succeeding internationally. Films like this have no discernible audience and so are doomed to fail even before they are made. As long as Britain keeps making rubbish small-scale, low-ambition films like this then we will never move on and have a strong industry which doesn't need American finance to survive all the time.

And just to really annoy me further the talented Kate Ashfield was completely underused and wasted and was just required to play a simpering idiot to the odious character of Aiden Gillen. He's OK in 'The Wire' and 'Game of Thrones' but terrible in this film.

This was a complete waste of time for all concerned and the only bit worth watching was the bizarre sight of comedians Adam & Joe trundling in as if they'd walked into the wrong film! Anyone thinking of watching this film - do yourself a favour and simply don't bother!
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unheroic and student-relevant
semilesbian10 February 2008
expect a low budget, independent social drama that you'll find on TV at a late hour / early morning time slot.

i'd been meaning to see this for a while since it features the quintessential actress of such social explorations - Kate Ashfield, who EXCELS in this kind of narrative and style environment. she genuinely makes these kinds of movies a shade more watchable.

its not a hyper entertaining movie that you'd gather your friends round to watch, rather its something that a film or art student ought to watch because it simply possibly 'applies' to your future trade, its likely to be relevant in some way or another to you.

its very unheroic with a familiar plot, populated by familiar characters doing the kinds of familiar things you see everyday. but thats what make soap operas popular right? films don't always need explosions and vested heroes.

the Low Down is simply an early-twenty-something kitchen sink drama with no frills, nor grit. pretty much life as you've lived it or are about to live it. a good way to spend an hour and a half with a cuppa. your eyes may wander every so often but Ashfield will draw them back in.
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Understatement is brillant and for once you can feel like the main characters could exist in "reality".
k_pastore18 October 2001
Although this film was only in the theater for about 2 days, I had the chance to view it- It is truthful storytelling. While you watch Frank you can either identify with him or someone you know who is like him and for once feel like this character is a true person. The dialogue is eloquent but simple with few dramatic explosions of expression. The constant feeling of agitation or confusion transcends the film and anyone who has been reevaluating any portion of their life can identify. The love story is understated and common, and the two main characters just can't seem to truly connect, although they both seem to want to. I love this film for it dares to translate relationships and moments in life that are so full of contrast and normalcy that one can be left in a constant state of doubt or boredom through the insecurity of their own decision-making.
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The Low Down (2000) - * Film Review *
LindsayFlim23 March 2011
Rarely does a film generate a feeling for me of actually being involved in it's setting as it plays. The camera shots almost emulate the same infrastructural things my eyes would normally gaze or stare at as I go about my outdoor life. The characters are also all people I've virtually met before.

It's just real man, and to capture that on film well is just beautiful. The feeling of being a fly on the wall of these familiar conversations or awkward situations that you know you've been in before is just so erm... 'interesting'!!

The best thing about owning this product, is re-watching it. The convenience of experiencing the story by simply re-watching a plastic DVD, is one of the reasons I love life. I think as time passes I will enjoy it even more and nostalgia will deepen for the symbolic takes of environment it presents in 2000.

This isn't a movie, it's film and should be appreciated as an art piece to be experienced like Janet Cardiff's work for instance. I think you'll get the most from this if you have ever been a student in London.
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