An Act of Love

An Act of Love


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

It starts with a couple, in a taxi, having a discussion. She's Louise, played by Gina McKee, an obviously talented actress whose TV career is enough to make her countenance familiar if not immediately recognisable. He is Drew, played by Stephen Mangan, Guy Secretan from Green Wing, here looking equal parts bespectacled and bewildered.

They are on their way to an appointment. On their way in the back of a London taxi, one of those hidden budget-hungry means of conveying a variety of things within a scene. There's concern about subsequent activities, but pressingly this current port of call - Louise's sister, Catherine, played by Raquel Cassidy. Catherine is trying to get pregnant, but, well, whatever might have been planned has become a new scheme, with one key phrase: "inseminate her naturally".

There are jokes, but it's not played for comedy outright, despite or perhaps because of the trio's sitcom histories. Someone makes a cup of tea, and we linger around the scene, and there's time to wonder if this might have played better as a sketch in some other show, if it could have done with something else going on. That's the strength of short films, that an idea, a moment, has frame enough to stand in front of an audience.

That 'Act Of Love' sits awaiting consideration. They don't talk about more than the mechanics of it. There is a squeaking bed and a silly face or two. Drew wears boxer shorts that wouldn't be out of place on Laurel or Hardy, and they're probably the least incomprehensible part of it. Catherine's motives are that Drew is nice while the men she usually meets are not - having agreed to provide a sample to help his wife's sister, it's not so much a hop or a skip as a bone-jump from there. Apparently he's pretty potent: "one look at [Catherine] and she's in the club again" makes for a pretty good 'hit rate', but ultimately this film isn't as successful.

It's well acted, to be fair, and well shot, but with a few smiles raised here or there, the comedy doesn't lift it past the thing in the middle - one supposes that yes, couples do do things for each other, and yes, sometimes those things are strange, but if one reverses the genders then 'An Act Of Love' would be domestic horror - as it is, it's just uncomfortable.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2010
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A man agrees to help his partner's sister have a baby.
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Director: Edward Dick

Starring: Stephen Mangan, Gina McKee, Raquel Cassidy

Year: 2010

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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