Black Pond (2011) Poster


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Does Family Dysfunction Rate Tabloid Coverage? Yes, If You're British!
alisonc-121 July 2012
Tom (Chris Langham) and Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) have an ordinary upper-middle-class British life; having raised two daughters to adulthood, they perhaps don't have much to say to each other any more, but they are rubbing along more or less comfortably, companionable at least in their care of their three-legged dog Boy. One afternoon, Tom is walking in the neighbourhood woods and comes across Blake (Colin Hurley), an apparently odd but gentle and perhaps sad man with some strange story-telling ways; on an impulse, Tom invites Blake home for tea, and he ends up staying for the weekend. At the end of which time, unfortunately, Blake has died at the family table; even more unfortunately, news of this gets out to the British tabloids, who accuse the family of being murderers. How they got to that point, and how to straighten it all out again, is the focus of "Black Pond." The story is told documentary-style, with the family members all being interviewed, along with family friend/kind-of mascot Tim Tanaka (Will Sharpe), himself rather confusedly in love with both daughters. As a result, we know at the beginning that Blake will be dead at some point. The way that events unfold is shown in flashbacks, while each family member has an entirely different take on what is going on and on who Blake is, as well. We never fully know who any of these people are, except that they are all quietly unhappy in that snarky, sometimes vicious British way. But they are all generally good people, with the definite exception of Eric Sacks (Simon Amstell), a self-styled "psychotherapist" whom Tim visits, only to be subjected to merciless, mean-spirited mockery. Only at the very end do we find out what really happened, and it turns out to be, in its way, rather beautiful.

This is a short film at 82 minutes; it's got a lot of biting dialogue that co-writers Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe have honed to a fare-the-well, and the actors are quite wonderful, especially Langham as Tom and Hurley as Blake - there's a lovely, poetic sense of connectedness between these two men who have been strangers up until 10 minutes ago, and the two actors do a terrific job of bringing that relationship out. If you're not fond of British family (melo)drama, this might not be for you, as the marital relationship in particular is quite harsh and mean at times, but there's much to be said for the simple connections that are also present in the film; one wants to know how these people will be getting along 5 years down the road, or 10. I don't know if there are any release dates set for North America (the showing at FantAsia 2012 was the Canadian premiere), but it's well worth looking out for if it comes your way.
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Ignore the IMDb summary,it's not really about a murder!
winles13 December 2011
Please don't let the IMDb summary,and indeed the film's own trailer deceive you. This film is not really about a murder,except that's what they are accused of.It's about a dysfunctional couple(with two away from home daughters) and how their lives are changed,and indeed turned upside down by the entry into their lives of a clinically depressed neighbour called Blake. It's one of those films that will benefit from repeat viewing,as it has many nuances that you just cannot pick up in one time. A good thought provoking,and at times moving film. Do give it a try.I am not sure how this film will go down in the US,as although they have the same family problems there,they also have a different way of looking at things.
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Cult status guaranteed
phiggins18 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Black Pond is not normal. It is odd. It is patchy. It is padded-out with an unnecessary but not unamusing performance from Simon Amstell. It is sometimes confusing and incoherent. It is also hilarious and memorable and brilliantly-performed. Chris Langham (yes, that Chris Langham) is on top form: "It's sheer lunacy to eat a banana at this time of night." There are so many great bits: the "I love you - both of you" in the car. The "phenomenal tw*t" line. Don't miss it. It's excellent. Yes, it feels overlong and underdone, somehow - it might have been better as a short, but even so, there is more imagination and wit on display than in most "quality" movies that stink up the multiplex on a regular basis.
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an independent black comedy surely set for cult status
Greigx328 February 2012
An incredibly impressive debut film from youthful newcomers Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley. Black Pond is a delightfully grim black comedy about the Thompson family, who're embroiled in a tabloid scandal about the death of a new family friend. They say that truth is stranger than fiction and, while this IS fictional, it has a realistic plausibility and a documentary style which makes the almost farcical events seem hilariously absurd in contrast with the repressed sobriety of the upper-middle-class English milieu. It's one of these films that will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way through, giggling and snorting like a child who's just heard an old man fart during a quiet church service and eventually letting out a proper belly-laugh every now and then. Colin Hurley, Amanda Hadingue, Simon Amstell, Will Sharpe (writer/director/actor) and the whole cast are excellent and Chris Langham makes a long-awaited return to film (with the controversy of his own personal ordeal with negative publicity perhaps adding its own somewhat dark undertone to the film – almost definitely NOT a conscious effort by the producers though!). It's a fine example of typically British satirical wit and exemplary of the potential of indie cinema, considering it was made on tiny budget of £25,000. The lack of money means this film will only be seen by few people on its limited release, but as it gathers rave reviews and serious respect, it will no doubt earn cult status by the time it's out on DVD. More like this and more from Sharpe and Kingsley please!
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Boring and Pathetic.
SameirAli10 October 2021
Rotten tomatoes are so unreliable that this film has a 100% rating. I guess all those 7 reviews are from either the film crew or they are paid. This is such a boring and pathetic movie. I don't understand what they really intend by making this film. Totally wasted my 90 minutes.
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For the wrong reasons.
ianharrison74712 June 2012
Creepy, uncomfortable, cheap, and actually lacking imagination. It is very confusing when watching the film without the aid of a preview, one doesn't quite understand if it has a serious intent or is just a spoof. The conclusion is quickly that it's a bad spoof. Dysfunctional family, weird outsider, dodgy dog. A dog's dinner. In fact the three legged dog was the best actor. There is a real danger of one being trapped into thinking it's good because it's alternative and built on a £25k budget. It's only just above awful because my compatriots giggled and didn't dump the DVD. but only just. Unfortunately one laughs for all the wrong reasons. Deeply depressing..I lost my sense of humour in the black pond.
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disappointing really
salmo3654 May 2012
I don't know who made this, what their funding was like, but it was very amateurish in feel. It wasn't bad, nothing shockingly awful, but neither was it entertaining, adult or polished.

Even accepting it for an indie flick, it just lacked something.

Langham was surely cast because they thought it would generate headlines, good or bad but he just lacked something and was phoning it in. The same with Amstell, he clearly did his cameo in one afternoon, probably as a favour to a mate and I wasn't really sure what the point of his character was. Which was a shame because it was his name that sparked my interest.

There was no story arc, you were clearly supposed to have already read the DVD cover and we were just there to see how it unfurled.

Very disappointing really.
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One flaw...
trgz14 May 2020
...Simon Anstell. Edit him/his character out (as his acting simply jarred) and you have a 9/10. Was it a case of hero worship by a young Sharpe that he was invited to mar an otherwise excellent film?
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Some scenes and ideas worth saving in an overall forgettable and clumsy movie.
CapaldiT21 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This could have been an efficient short movie. There are some strong ideas and themes. The main plot about the effect of a stranger entering the life of a sad middle-aged couple is good. This odd man, Blake, is a character with a lot of potential and so is the husband played by the great actor Chris Langham. To some extent, the wife could have been more richly constructed; here she is mainly irritating, cold-hearted and lifeless. She does look more human in the interviews, though.

On the technical side, one must be understanding ... the music is sometime intrusive, the cuts raw and clumsy, etc. The tone - usually flat - and pace of the movie are disturbing. If this is a kind of artistic trait, I do think that one should have more clues of how to perceive some elements. I have to say that the second part of the family - often presented in a 'light' mood, pseudo-young and dynamic, with a sort of 'Eels-feeling' music and nervous camera work - is nonsensical and mainly uninteresting. You just don't care about that side of the story and it scuppers the narrative. The daughters are two unfriendly and undercooked characters (and I wasn't convinced by the actors' work either). There is no explanation about why they act like ungrateful and cold children (they share this with their mother, but that's not enough). No clues either about why Tim keeps going to his therapy sessions led by a barefoot guy bored to death who kills time by playing the psychologist. This whole character seemed out of place, and I felt as if I missed the reason he was there altogether. He calls his patient 'an idiot', etc. His only function is of having leaked the story to the press, but there wasn't even the need to create a character for that. It ends up as a distracting and poor adding to the movie. Some drawing shoots add originality to the narrative, while the disappeared lady that we keep seeing roaming in the woods feels forced and unnecessary. Moreover, it shows the lack of money by using a sort of 'iMovie' filter on every take that concerns this character.

To sum up, I see this movie as a UFO wreckage with good intention, an overall decent cast with some talented actors and a lovely message at its core. I would say that it is about relationships and their evolution. It is also about honesty and how society, and the press, can approach a situation with a cold and judgemental eye that misses the point completely.
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