This Is Not A Love Song

This Is Not A Love Song


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If this is not a love song, what is it? A goofy manhunt on the Yorkshire moors, where a Scot, called Heaton (Kenny Glenaan), is on the run with his mental Irish mate, Spike (Michael Colgan)?

Heaton is a small time crook. Well, he's a crook. How small his time, you don't know, although it can't be big, because he wouldn't be hanging around with an eejit like Spike otherwise. They're driving a stolen car into the country, when it runs out of fuel. They go to a farm for help and Spike shoots someone by mistake. He's that stupid.

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The rest of the movie becomes bogged down in the chase. The local landowner (David Bradley), who isn't a toff, surprisingly, organises beaters to find the men and despatch them. Already, credulity is slipping. This isn't the Deep South. When someone is killed in Britain, the police have to be informed. How else do you explain a blood soaked body?

Heaton and Spike argue and shout a lot and yet their trackers never hear them. Hounds yelp as beaters close in and yet there are no hounds, only labradors and collies. The 4x4 posse carry 12-bores broken open across their arms, something that has recently been adopted by urban blood sports enthusiasts for safety's sake, and unthinkable for a farmer, used to handling guns on a regular basis. Also, the geography keeps changing. One moment, they are in a wood, with a couple of beaters yards away, and the next they are in a deep gorge up to their waists in water. Heaton sprains an ankle and can't walk. He's out on the moor, exposed and surrounded. Suddenly, he's down a cave, safe and hidden. In order to trap him forever, the landowner pulls a rock, the size of a small car, over the cave mouth. He appears to do this with one hand.

Who is Heaton? What's he doing with a retard like Spike? What's he saying? It's either the accents, or the sound system, but picking up dialogue is especially difficult. The script was written by Simon (The Full Monty) Beaufoy. He must be a townie.

"Is this the countryside?" Spike asks. "I've never been here before." He's not the only one.

Every so often, director Bille Eltringham has a psychedelic fit and the visuals go arty. She uses slow motion and other camera tricks to overcome the basic simplicity of the plot. They seem imaginative, rather than pretentious.

You feel sorry for the actors. It must have been cold and wet. Their commitment is admirable and their performances reflect this in a good way. Even Bradley, who has played these dour country types before, finds new depths to menace.

If it wasn't for the inconsistencies in the continuity and the incomprehension of such a friendship, the film might have driven a nail through the misplaced romanticism of the natural world and become genuinely disturbing. As it is, it appears odd, like unrecognisable roadkill.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2002
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Two petty crooks are hunted over rugged country after a gun goes off by mistake in a farmyard.
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Director: Bille Eltringham

Writer: Simon Beaufoy

Starring: Michael Colgan, Kenny Glenaan, David Bradley, John Henshaw, Adam Pepper, Keri Arnold, Chris Middleton

Year: 2002

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 2002

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