The Pedestrian

***

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Everyone needs a focus in life, a raison d'etre. For some it may be film, for others tea, but Jonathon Collins has dedicated himself to one goal. Walking.

The Pedestrian, however, is not a perambulator, a stroller, a louche langourous lolloper. He is a blur, weaving through crowds like a human form of water. At crossings as the red man glares, he waits, his suit atop a pair of trainers. He has never lost a walk off.

His speed on the ground is matched only by his narcissism, and it is fair to allude to Greek myth despite his Facebook group and speed-dating. Though he administrates Kick The Little People Back To Middle Earth, dedicated to smoothing the path of the speedy Pedestrian one violent act at a time, he has a Nemesis.

As Collins, Jonathon Rush brings an intensity to his namesake's obsession, but if ever there were a justification for sharing all of a character's name The Pedestrian has it. Matt Mclure might not spend much time on screen, but his neatly cropped beard marks him as a wrong'un. In a three way walk-off the previously defeated Paul McHugh has just the right mixture of savage schadenfreude at Collins' defeat, Mclure the unwitting grace of a cheetah with a bloodied maw. Nature, red in tooth and white of running shoe.

Into Collins' world of speed, contempt, and little else only one ray of light shines. Among the little people who saunter in his way, whose umbrellas check his watery passage, one island - an attractive young woman soliciting donations for charity, the so called 'charity mugger' - one might think such a speed-bump to his progress would check him, but his struggle with her is largely intellectual, until, that is, his Nemesis arrives.

From his rut he is spurred to action, aided by archival footage of the Apollo landing - quite why it would be on television one wonders, but it's forgiveable. Though not as cunningly deployed as in Dust, it's still well used. As are the cast, mostly newcomers, and the streets of Glasgow.

Much of the film appears to have been shot within 15 minutes' walk (perhaps three for Jonathon) of the Glasgow Film Theatre, and that home advantage saw it receive a good reaction at the 2011 Glasgow Film Festival. Even more so given that it was screened at the CCA (five minutes, perhaps one for Jonathon). That positive reaction also saw it awarded the Audience Prize for the Short Film Competition.

Applause, however, is not always the hallmark of the best films. While the Pedestrian is humorous and confidently acted it still manages to slow in places. It doesn't quite have the razor edge one would expect from a man obsessed with time and distance, one with nary a hair out of place.

Written and directed by Stuart Elliot, it's his second fiction short and a good indicator of his talent. Shooting on Glasgow's streets can't have been easy, but all involved acquit themselves well - special mention should be made of crew member Emma Fraser, if only because she's credited as production runner.

The pedestrian's hobby of extreme forest running with its uniform of sunglasses and blindfold brings Intacto to mind, but it might be familiarity with the environment that suggests a BBC sketch show rather than a self-contained short. We're not quite given enough of Collins - a brief view of his flat, his lack of success romantically are something, but one wonders how, where, if, he eats; he may sit idly watching others walk, "amateurs", but we're not given enough motivation - there's certainly a spring in his step, but it would be nice to know what wound him up.

Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2011
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Jonathon Collins has never been beaten at any walking competition, and joins them eagerly on his daily commute. But could his obsession jeopardise a possible romance with a young woman who walks for charity?
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Director: Stuart Elliott

Writer: Stuart Elliott

Starring: Billy Elliott, Matt McClure, Gary McCurry

Year: 2010

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

Glasgow 2011

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