Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"This is how Brakes comes across. Cynical and homemade."

Imagine Love Actually filmed from the dark side.

Feel good? Been better.

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This is a homegrown improvised feelbad movie that starts at the end and ends at the start.

In Part Two, which opens proceedings, an ensemble cast of known and unknowns go through the ritual of breaking up. There is much screaming and shouting and crying from the ladies and self justification from the men, entangled, as they are, in lies, sexual boredom and nothing left to lose.

Part One, which fills the final third, shows the shy intros, the pick up follow throughs, the soon-to-be doomed couples at their almost innocent beginnings where connections appear arbitrary, not dependent upon charm or humour.

What the film says is that there's no magic in the mating game. It's all about timing. Guys think about sex every two minutes, or is it every two seconds? Girls think about love which is a work in progress. Sex may open the door but is not the engine that drives the train.

What does Brakes mean? Slowing the speed of an emotional downhill? Stopping the flow of banal small talk? Switching off romance?

This has a back-of-the-envelope scenario. A handful of actors in a pub, maybe, discuss their divorces and messy relationships.

"Hey! Let's make a movie."


"Because we can."

"What about the script?"

"We'll make it up."


"You're looking at them."

This may not have happened. Yet this is how Brakes comes across. Cynical and homemade.

The villain is sex, The hero is hope. Yet there is one rule in feelbad movies. Heroes never win.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2016
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Improvised black comedy charting moments in the lives of nine couples.
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Director: Mercedes Grower

Writer: Mercedes Grower

Starring: Julian Barratt, Kelly Campbell, Seb Cardinal, Juliet Cowan, Julia Davis, Noel Fielding, Kerry Fox, Roland Gift, Salena Godden, Mercedes Grower, Martin Hancock, Kate Hardie, Siobhan Hewlett, Oliver Maltman, Paul McGann

Year: 2016

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2016

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