Double Date

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Double Date
"You'll laugh, and wince, and laugh again."

Jim is nearly 30, and his best friend Alex is determined to help him lose his virginity before that fateful day. They encounter Kitty and Lulu, but they are after a virgin for different purposes.

Double Date is a (nec)romantic comedy, throwing references and homages around with the same crashing enthusiasm that lets it change gears as often and as gleefully as a joy-rider in a stolen car.

Danny Morgan plays Jim, Michael Socha is Alex. Morgan has worked with writer/director Benjamin Barfoot on several previous occasions, but this is Barfoot's debut feature and Morgan does not disappoint. Michael Socha's young to be a veteran actor, but from his debut in This Is England through roles in shorts like Bale and Labour he continues to deliver. In this genre-blender treat they both deliver sufficiently to meet the wide variety of requirements placed upon them - one sequence where something transcendental from a nightclub is mistaken for religious ecstasy gave me a grin almost as wide as a punter's pupils. As Kitty and Lulu, Kelly Wenham (another previous Barfoot collaborator) and Georgia Groome convince with sororital chemistry and performances that demand quite a lot from them physically.

There are nightclub scenes, an awkward family birthday party, a race against the clock in a vehicle that's more sex dungeon than sedan, a fight that makes a study of violence, a confrontation with a scruffier than normal Dexter Fletcher that's got the same trouble in a trailer tension as Kill Bill though the defining artifact is not a shotgun full of rocksalt or an ancient Kung Fu technique but a blue carrier bag of snacks from the garage and a television news report.

Tarantino's a reasonable comparison. The similarities to that director's homage to grindhouse start with choices of font and colour in the title sequence, in those scarlet lettered credits and an anticipatory judder. There's an animated opening, a dream of butterflies, a charming mixture of influences and quality of execution. The vibe is, well, let's call it Essexploitation, suburban sorcery, the green men of the greenbelt, that same wellspring of village conspiracy that let Hot Fuzz channel Summer Isle in Somerfield. This is a movie clearly made by someone who loves movies, but there's a distinction between the works of Edgar Wright and Uwe Boll. This is far more the former, a bloody comic treat. I'm doing Barfoot a disservice by talking about other directors, this is his film, written with Danny Morgan whose Jim is at once heart, hero, and mcguffin.

I don't know who persuaded GOAT to provide the soundtrack, but they're a genius, because it's great. I mean, it's also got Only You by YAZ, and a live performance by Big Narstie, but their rumbling psychedelia is exactly right for this trip. The quality of the music and the performances hide a few sour notes - there's a wee bit of transphobia, and there are issues with consent, but these dissonances are highlighted by how smoothly everything else works. It does so much right that these mis-steps are more disappointing than anything else.

If you're of a certain age you'll know how difficult it is to find time to do things with people you like, but it's worth making the effort to see Double Date. You'll laugh, and wince, and laugh again, and you're almost certainly unlikely to be ritually murdered. Unfortunately that's not true for, well - you'll find out when you see it.

Reviewed on: 01 Jul 2017
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Double Date packshot
An innocent out to prove his manhood meets a pair of femmes fatales.
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