- 1h 15min
A 'Bonnie and Clyde' inspired contemporary comedy drama.A 'Bonnie and Clyde' inspired contemporary comedy drama.A 'Bonnie and Clyde' inspired contemporary comedy drama.A 'Bonnie and Clyde' inspired contemporary comedy drama.A 'Bonnie and Clyde' inspired contemporary comedy drama.
Or in an oven.
"Times are hard for everyone right now." And then some.
Kate (Kelly Brook) has just been made redundant, the pseudo-trendy furniture shop she works in is going out of business and her boyfriend has left her for a blank expression with blonde hair. With no money, she does what any desperate women would do in such a situation.
She puts her aforementioned head in the aforementioned oven.
Of course, the stinger is that the gas has been cut off. Even suicide, it seems, costs money in our current economy.
It's a cracking, throwaway gag, and a dark one too, but the point hits home. Kate is going to need a 'Plan B', and, armed with an abiding fascination with Bonnie Parker, not to mention a rather fetching beret, she decides to rip off her soon to be ex-bosses, by robbing the shop safe before the last of the money vacates the premises.
It is around this fun conceit that writer/director Maeve Murphy elaborates on her original short film SUSHI. Slickly shot, with bright, colourful cinematography by Gerry Vasbenter, the hand-held, freewheeling style feels a little like a Richard Lester picture, in terms of it's energy.
TAKING STOCK is, first and foremost, a comedy, and a charming one at that. And yet, like the best of it's type, there can be no comedy without tragedy. The film is as much about the desperation of a Britain on the brink of economic disaster, as it is about an OCEAN'S ELEVEN-style heist.
Murphy, whose previous work, BEYOND THE FIRE, had dealt with issues of Catholic guilt and unrequited love, has good form in crafting meaning from mayhem, resulting in a picture that could happily be described as timely. You root for the underdog and damn 'The Man.' Kelly Brook, meanwhile, is something of a revelation here.
Given her cinematic track record of sub-standard, genre thrillers and below-par comedies (and I'm looking at you, KEITH LEMON THE MOVIE), she has always seemed like an actress in need of the right part, and indeed, the right director.
I think perhaps Brook has found her perfect match in Murphy, who utilises the more well known facets of Brook's previous film personas, which generally capitalised on how beautiful she is, and neatly subverts them, allowing Brook the sheer giddy fun of being playful, vulnerable and, above all else, real. There is a sadness to Kate, in her eyes, in the quiet moments when she looks for ways to pay the rent, or simply contemplates ending it all, and yet, on the flip side, a 'joie de vivre' with which Brook, smartly, lays any trace of vanity to one side, to be both goofy and soulful. If anything, it makes her more attractive.
She's a Bonnie without a Clyde, although she has plenty of support from her fellow cast members, particularly Junichi Kajioka as the smartest guy on the stoop. Georgia Groome and Jay Brown are full of plucky charm as Kate's partners in crime, and Scot Williams is superb as Matt, who is tasked with completing the last of the failing shop's accounts, and who provides much of the film's more earnest tone.
And it's this tonal shift that makes TAKING STOCK far more than just the sum of all its parts.
Yes, the film loses a little focus as it hurtles, chaotically towards its conclusion, and yes, Kate's plan is ludicrous, but then that's half the point. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the film plays on the classic movie conventions of the heist thriller: assembling the team, meetings in shadowy surroundings, femme fatales, boo-hiss villains, double crosses and lots of running around (in high heels no less), and yet, beyond such tropes, there is quite a bit of fun to be had.
One particularly elaborate moment, involving stealing some keys, a car accident and plenty of built up tension, ends with the line; "Lets go to Nandos." It's this subversion that marks TAKING STOCK out as something refreshingly different. A movie that knows its a movie, but also not afraid to add a hefty dose of bitter in with the sweet. It's a hard line to tow, a balancing act that has failed many times in the past, yet Murphy has enough intelligence to never play the characters dumb.
At one point, Kate asks Matt; "What do you want?" to which he simply replies "A garage." It's a nice touch, reminding you that behind the humour, the slapstick and the lipstick, these are real people, whose aspirations are not exactly world domination.
Everyone deserves to be happy.
Do yourself a favour, take stock.
- Nov 3, 2016