4 user 3 critic

Set the Thames on Fire (2015)

Two boys fall through the clockwork of a grotesque, nightmare London, endeavouring to survive and escape.


Al Joshua




Credited cast:
Noel Fielding ... Dickie
Sadie Frost ... Mrs. Hortense
Sally Phillips ... Colette
Morgana Robinson Morgana Robinson ... London Town Tannoy
Lily Loveless ... Emily
Max Bennett ... Sal
Penny Judd Penny Judd ... Chef
Timothy Renouf ... Jimmy Dean
Joelle Koissi ... Whore
Michael Winder Michael Winder ... Art
Collette Cooper ... Magdalen
Donna Preston Donna Preston ... Pop Pop's Fan
David Hoyle ... The Magician
Jay Finocchiaro ... Sleeping Pub Man
Phelim Kelly ... Clubber


Two boys fall through the clockwork of a grotesque, nightmare London, endeavouring to survive and escape.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two wrong'uns make a right See more »


Did You Know?


The story about a pigeon that befriended a statue that Art tells Sal is a summary of Oscar Wilde's short story The Happy Prince, although in the original the bird was a swallow and not a pigeon. See more »


Good Times
Written and performed by Al Joshua
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User Reviews

A seedy, funny tragedy.
21 August 2020 | by parry_naSee all my reviews

... in which Salvidor (Max Bennett) - 'the pretty one' - and Art (Michael Winder) - 'the ugly one' - meet up and decide to raise enough money to go to Egypt. On their way, they meet a variety of extreme and brilliantly played characters. Sadie Frost, Sally Philips and Noel Fielding (now co-host of family-friendly cookery shows, here playing a foul-mouthed sex-crazed cross-dresser) are exceptional in these roles. David Hoyle plays probably the most affecting of them all, a down-on-his luck, tired old magician. His character in particular represents what 'Set the Thames on Fire' is all about - extravagant and often hilarious superficiality hiding a pure, terminal melancholy.

To say this film is merely a 'great experience' is difficult, because the heart of it is difficult to pinpoint. It has been described as a tragicomedy, and uses its low-budget as an advantage, making deliberately dream-like locations and architecture with only one foot in reality.

It is sick, seedy and tragic - so how then, is it also so genuinely funny? A skilful balancing act on behalf of director and writer Ben Charles Edwards and Al Joshua, that's how.

It reminds me in part of 1989's extraordinary 'Sante Sangre' in its absurdist setting, with characters that seem inaccessibly strange, but that are in possession of real humility once we get to know them.

My score is 8 out of 10.

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Release Date:

16 September 2016 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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