Eye For Film >> Movies >> Nude Tuesday (2022) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Whatever you might think of the comedy presented onscreen in this tale of a repressed married couple who try to invigorate their relationship on a sex retreat, there’s no denying there’s a fun concept lying behind it. Although devised by writer/director Armagan Ballantyne and writer/star Jackie van Beek, the film’s dialogue is deliberate gibberish, with a Scandinavian lilt, that was improvised by the actors, who had been given some pointers in terms of word and sentence construction by dialect coach Perry Piercy.
The idea is that, now finished, the film can be subtitled by any number of different comedians in different territories, with the creators accurately suggesting it is like a sort of feature-length version of the Downfall parodies video meme. In the case of the version playing as Edinburgh Film Festival’s central gala, they’re written by Julia Davis, although a version by Celia Pacquola and Ronny Chieung is also available.
The story, as you might expect, hinges as much on the visual gags and the way the actors make the sub-IKEA style gibberish sound, as it does on what is written onscreen. Laura (van Beek) and Bruno (Damon Herriman, channelling the look of a young Bobby Ball) are stuck in a rut, with Bruno’s sexual frustrations not helped by Laura’s current bout of thrush. I mention this as an indicator of the register of the humour brought by Davis’s subtitles, which are, as you might expect from the writer of Nighty Night, not for the fainthearted or the easily offended. In a bid to help them perk things up, Bruno’s mother presents them with a free stay at a retreat run by sex guru Bjorg (Jemain Clemant).
If you’re imagining all the things that could go wrong for a repressed couple at a sexual healing retreat then you probably won’t be too far from what is served up, including situations involving a host of farmyard animals, a potential liaison with Bjorg and, of course, the Nude Tuesday of the title. It’s almost a shame they’ve bothered with the subtitles at all, as much of the comedy speaks for itself, which makes the subtitles feel rather “pushed” to lewd extremes in a bid to extract further laughs in places. Instead of Davis doubling down, it could well have been more interesting for her to play the conversations between the couples more ‘straight’ to let the visual humour stand out. As it is more feels like less. Still, the characters are likeable in their dysfunction, with Clemant, in particular, having a blast as the louche guru and there are enjoyable gibberish versions of Road To Nowhere and Time Of The Season. There’s also a welcome body positive approach to the nudity that emphasises the film’s underlying optimism about humanity.Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2022