Concrete Plans

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Concrete Plans
"Ultimately there are only so many possibilities, but director Will Jewell manages some effective sleight of hand nonetheless." | Photo: Courtesy of FrightFest

It's a key tenet of modern capitalism, yet there is still a good deal of controversy about the notion that wealth created by those with money and power trickles down to others at the bottom of the economic heap. One thing, however, is clear. When the wealthy screw up, misery trickles down easily.

Simon (Kevin Guthrie) is already in the process of renovating his old farm buildings when he hears that the regulators might be closing in on his offshore accounts. The builders are on site, making measurements and unloading supplies. They've been asking about their money. He tells them it will take a few days, but they're clearly not satisfied. They don't trust him, or men of his class generally. What can you say about a man who offers you accommodation in a nice cosy barn only to rescind that offer at the last minute because he's decided it's too close to his house, instead expecting the five of you to manage on bunk beds in a freezing hut for three months the job is expected to take?

Perhaps it's understandable that Simon is nervous. Perhaps he's alert to the risk of theft which clearly concerns foreman Bob (Steve Speirs). Perhaps he anticipates Serbian builder Viktor's (Goran Bogdan) flirtation with his girlfriend Amy (Amber Rose Revah). Perhaps it's a premonition. At any rate, his treatment of the builders increases tensions between them. Viktor just want to send some money home to his daughter. Jim (Chris Reilly) has taken on the job because he's hiding from something, and wants his pay so that he can move on. He and Bob's nephew Steve (Charley Palmer Rothwell) make it clear that they don't like foreigners. It looks set to be a long three months. When tensions spill over, resulting in a shocking episode of violence, Jim makes a suggestion that turns the men's familiar world upside down.

Card games provide entertainment for the men throughout their stay at the farm. Simon even joins them for a hand on one occasion, before he realises that his class background and education don't guarantee victory. Concrete Plans plays out like a card game, with each player - and the audience - trying to keep track of the moves the others might make. Ultimately there are only so many possibilities, but director Will Jewell manages some effective sleight of hand nonetheless.

It's rare to see genre films focused on blue collar workers like this. Jewell, who also wrote, understands his subject well and the builders all come across as believable, rounded characters. Bogdan gives Viktor a sweetness still rarer in this type of character but it's Spiers who steals the show as the conflicted foreman, burdened by responsibility yet lacking any real power. His is the special sadness of a man who has worked hard all his life to build something up only to find himself at risk of losing it, whilst people like Simon seem immune to any lasting deprivation, splashing around expensive bottles of wine even when they have no cash.

A well managed ensemble piece, Concrete Plans tells a simple story with confidence, keeping it real. Screening as part of Frightfest 2020, it's a modest piece of work with solid potential.


Concrete Plans will be released on Digital HD on 23 November.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2020
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High in the remote Welsh mountains, five builders renovate a farmhouse. Two of them take a dislike to Ukranian Viktor. When payments are late, tempers fray and one man makes an astonishing proposition.

Director: Will Jewel

Writer: Will Jewell

Starring: Amber Rose Revah, James Lance, Kevin Guthrie, Charley Palmer Rothwell

Year: 2020

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

Frightfest 2020

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