Running In Traffic

Running In Traffic


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

We don't talk about it that much but film critics, just like every other member of the movie-going public, sometimes really look forward to seeing a film, bringing with us a weight of goodwill and expectation. That's exactly how I came to Running In Traffic. Ever since I saw Bryan Larkin in 2005 short film Scene, I've been hoping to get to review his high-calibre acting in a feature-length film. Sadly, despite his performance ability showing no signs of waning, even an Oscar-winning performance could not rescue this film (which he co-wrote) from its mess of plot, which only gets lost not profound.

Larkin plays Joe, a bruising working-class type who has just lost his father. Dad is dead but his debts are living on, causing problems for his mum and leading Joe - already struggling to get by himself - to look for a quick fix of drug-related cash. As he flounders around trying to square the circle with the help of his dodgy Uncle Bill (Kenneth Cranham), he runs the emotional gamut from despair to, er, utter despair.

Copy picture

Meanwhile, in an unrelated plot which is intended to mark out parallels with the first - but which never succeeds despite laying it on so thick you're almost wading through the signposts - Kayla (Anna Kerth) is having an equally horrific time. A Polish waitress living under the threat of eviction, she has just had a miscarriage, has a deep desire to write greetings cards' verses and, inexplicably, almost ends up in a romance with the most ugly looking one of Joe's work colleagues. She is making an emotional journey from, you guessed it, despair to utter despair.

These two may be destined to never meet but we, sadly, don't have the luxury of being able to look away from their lives - captured (albeit very well) with a colour palette as driech - and as cliched in its portrayal of working-class Scotland - as the plotline.

Initially, amid scenes of birth and death, there's a sense that decent parallels may be drawn, but the longer the film runs the more flimsy and contrived the 'path crossing' of Kayla and Joe becomes. Add to this a key plot point involving a character who is only briefly glimpsed earlier in the film - which left several people at the screening I was at completely flumoxed - and some music which would be better served in a Guinness advert and the end result travels the road to incredulity and ends in a cul-de-sac marked 'unintentionally funny'.

Larkin really is a talented actor, who deserves to be seen by a wider audience - but his writing simply doesn't measure up.

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2009
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Running In Traffic packshot
Parallel lives spiral out of control.
Amazon link


EIFF 2009

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