Director William Marsh helmed this 2000 flick from a novel by the world renowned author Martin Amis, so the movie has a good pedigree from the word go. It stars Paul Bettany, Katy Carmichael and Hayley Carr in a wonderfully dark comedy which doesn’t pull its punches and delivers at every turn.
It follows a group of old friends who all met at college and who have now moved on with their lives and gone their separate ways. Quentin for example, has apparently settled down with a woman of means and now lives quite happily off her. Giles has inherited a huge amount of money and has therefore become a complete alcoholic. Andy and Diana got together and took up drugs big time which has rather put an end to their love life. And Kieth, well he might seem the sanest of the lot but has been in and out of mental institutions and has not yet recovered. All in all, not a happy or sorted mob of people at all/. And it gets worse when two Americans and a bad influence on legs called Skip turn up in their lives with exciting offers of new and better drugs and diverting ideas about group sex sessions. Oh, and there’s all the notes from some guy called “Johnny” which, just to make things even weirder, are left around the place smeared in blood….
It’s a good adaptation of the original novel with the director clearly singing from the same hymn sheet as Amis, meaning that all of the character nuances are carried through into the movie. Paul Bettany excels as he always does and he is given excellent support by Charmichael, Carr, Kris Marshall and Olivia Williams, all of whom bring realism to their overblown characters. Direction is claustrophobic and interestingly lit and graded, with great use of oversaturated colours which really make an impact on screen. Though all of the characters start out as unlike able failures and low life’s, nevertheless they have a journey to go through and it’s well worth sticking with the movie to the end to see how their individual storylines are resolved together.
A great adaptation of a splendid novel.
Director: William Marsh
Writers: Martin Amis (novel), William Marsh
Stars: Paul Bettany, Katy Carmichael, Hayley Carr