Return To Sender


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Return To Sender
"There's got to be humour that doesn't feel like pointing and laughing at a PVC-clad strawman."

There are probably two key lessons to take from Return To Sender: the first is to take care when you take in a parcel for a neighbour because it could contain almost anything; the second is that one should always use a courier company who offer package-tracking at the very least, and ideally will give you a phone-call or send you a text to give you a delivery window, especially when you are expecting a gimp.

Managing to make clumsy light of agoraphobia, unsafe bondage practises, problem neighbours (in either direction), and a fractal thicket of problematic treatment of complex sexual politics, Return To Sender is amusing enough if one doesn't think about it and unintentionally disturbing if one does.

The neighbour's a beast, of course, the kind of tyrannical sexual oppressor who would schlep a Brobdingnagian marital aid about without even a blue-and-white striped carrier bag to hold it in, the kind who's got DVDs of his previous sexual encounters and a telly that's a bit too loud for a tenement flat. Paul Cassidy's "recluse" is well-observed, if a little too sanguine about becoming involved in the kind of misadventure that would readily form the plot of an episode of a television police procedural.

There are a couple of funny moments - including a panicked phonecall during which he'd "like to order some Police please", but otherwise the comedy seems to be predicated upon the grotesque and the other. Between Christian Grey's necktie and David Carradine's belt there's got to be humour that doesn't feel like pointing and laughing at a PVC-clad strawman. It's possible to deal with these subjects safely, sanely, and consensually - A Dangerous Method and Hysteria aside, Secretary has some of the same notes but manages to avoid an accidental trafficking/sex-murder subplot. Obvious allusions to Pulp Fiction aside, it can't be too much to hope for a more nuanced approach than that evinced by Tarantino.

Inevitably, of course, it may be that this is over-thinking it - that this is just comedy, and yes, at that level it's quite a funny one. The problem is that there's a person in that box, and it's sometimes too easy to forget it even after it's open.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2013
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Taking in a parcel for a neighbour has an unexpected effect on the quiet life of a recluse.

Director: Stuart Elliott

Writer: Stuart Elliott

Starring: Stewart Porter, Vincent Hunter, Euan Cuthbertson, Billy Elliott, Paul Cassidy, James Thomson

Year: 2012

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2013

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