Dangerous Parking

Dangerous Parking


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

The anti-hero on an alcohol or drug-fuelled downward spiral is a storyline with a lot of mileage, thanks probably to the average audience's greedy voyeurism when it comes to tales of excess. We get to dip into psychedelic worlds, commiserate when it all goes wrong, and laugh at the inevitable scenes of absurdity, then go home without so much as a hangover.

This can also make for some very uncompromising cinema, best exemplified in the sometimes excruciating scenes of Requiem For A Dream. Though not in the same heavy-weight league, Dangerous Parking also chooses a no-holds-barred approach as it charts the alchohol and drug-soaked misanthropic middle-age of a film director, Noah Arkwright, following him through rehab to a horrific battle with bladder cancer. Dour as this all sounds, Director Peter Howitt (who also stars as Noah) tries to play it as a black comedy. He manages to extract the odd laugh from the audience, but it's half-hearted – as if a concession to his sheer effort.

Copy picture

Though Dangerous Parking is adapted from an acclaimed semi-autobiographical novel, described as having practically been written with the film adaptation in mind, the script feels clunky. It's not helped by the excessive narration which regales us with Noah's every unuttered comeback. The smart-arsed, self-deprecating commentary only serves to confirm his lack of sympathetic qualities and to make us wonder why the hell pretty cellist Claire (Saffron Burrows) would fall for him. Similarly ludicrous is the way in which they get together – Noah's best friend picks her photo out of a magazine as his ideal woman, and within a few weeks they're on a pseudo-honeymoon in Morocco.

Burrows struggles to convince in her subsequent role as his gentle and supportive wife, and the rest of the supporting cast are marginalised (particularly Sean Pertwee, whose character deserves more attention). The narrative skips around in time rather confusingly, and doesn't give the other characters the chance to develop. There are also elements that seem unnecessary, such as the tension between Claire's best friend Etta (Alice Evans) and Noah, as he tries to work out whether she's trying to seduce Claire or him or both. Her purpose seems to be to titillate for about five minutes, after which she disappears with little comment.

The overall effect is an awkward patchwork of a film that tries to cover a lot of ground, to little effect. Maybe I'm being hard on Dangerous Parking – there are a few giggles and Noah has the odd pathetically endearing moment. But the brave intention to tackle a difficult and emotional subject doesn't quite pay off. I started to feel as though I'd got stuck at the bar next to some ranting old codger breathing whisky fumes whilst telling me all his life's failures in detail. It was a relief when, just short of two hours, Noah finally shut up.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2008
Share this with others on...
Dangerous Parking packshot
An alcoholic film-director on the road to self-destruction.
Amazon link

Director: Peter Howitt

Writer: Peter Howitt, Stuart Browne

Starring: Peter Howitt, Saffron Burrows, Sean Pertwee, Rachael Stirling, Tom Conti, Alice Evans

Year: 2007

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Leaving Las Vegas