Eye For Film >> Movies >> A Viable Candidate (2016) Film Review
A Viable Candidate
Reviewed by: Jane Fae
Dark. Brutal. Intense. A viable candidate is a short film from director Orson Nava, providing, in 15 minutes, a more compelling no-holds-barred insight into the racism at the heart of British society and the nature of power than many less talented filmmakers might achieve in a six-episode drama.
Yes, we all know the genre. Heralded with serious voice-over and grainy cuts, the Beeb – especially – would promise us a serious look at these issues, which is then blunted by all the twists and turns and sub-plots necessary to hold an audience's attention over hours and weeks of viewing. Whereas here, cut back to the bare bones, the issues are plain for all to see.
The film is effectively a three-hander, taking place in one of those nondescript, wood-panelled nowhere rooms that we understand, from public school to parliament, as the home of the establishment. Sylvan Bradshaw (Steve Toussaint) and wife Mia (Sara Carver) are playfully discussing Sylvan's imminent coronation as the first black UK Prime Minister. Will he be the youngest? No. That honour goes, by a country mile, to Pitt the Younger. But in modern times? Not even, as David Cameron holds the honours there. But might he be the sexiest?
Their joshing is interrupted by the arrival of a man – we never learn his name and he is identified in the cast list only as Suit (Robert Gwilym) - who has, he intimates in that quiet passive aggressive way so characteristic of those confident in their possession of power, just a few matters to clear up.
These matters, secrets that Sylvan believed buried decades previously, go to the heart of not just his fitness for office, but his viability: would the people still accept him as Prime Minister if they knew what Suit knows?
An ominous, at times scarcely audible soundtrack, underscores the awful, all too believable truth revealed by the unfolding interview - that to be Prime Minister in the UK today, it is necessary to be “whiter than white” in every sense of the word. It's very easy to deconstruct A Viable Candidate as a study in racism pure and simple, though an equally believable twist at the end (my lips are sealed; if you want to know what happens, you'll have to watch the film yourself!) provides an alternative perspective.
Suit may be racist, may be not. What he cares about is power: control. Whereas Sylvan's dilemma emerges from a toxic nexus of racist structures, racist society and the no-win choices that are presented, as a result, to any up and coming black politician trying to navigate such territory.
An excellent film.Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2017