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Monday, 5 July 2010

Skeletons, written and directed by Nick Whitfield

Last Friday, we went to the London premiere of Skeletons at the Renoir, Bloomsbury. This comedy of the paranormal is Nick Whitfield's first full-length film as writer and director, yet still won the Michael Powell Award for the Best New British Feature Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Small budget movie that it is, the lovely summer evening was splendidly undisturbed by stretched limos and hired muscle with the bits of wire coming out of their earholes. In fact, as the 6.20 start approached, the people who made the film were if anything less dressed up than the other clumps of people, many of whom after all had come straight from work.

The actors, with the exception of Jason Isaacs (the less-than-loveable Lucius Malfoy of Harry Potter fame and here playing the Colonel), are not as well known as they should be and, with luck and justice on their side, their very funny performances in this movie should bring them to greater prominence. As in Harry Potter, Skeletons takes place in a world similar to but significantly different from most people's experience of modern Britain. Ed Gaughan and Andrew Buckley are psychic employees of a company that exorcises the skeletons in people's closets, largely - in the part that we see - in the Derbyshire area.

The first part of the film, establishing this world, finds ample opportunity for humour in the worries and bureaucratic routine of the main characters, agents of the paranormal drudging away in the seemy world of private detectives. As the Colonel at one point remarks, "I've got a couple of Saxe-Coburgs next week. Imagine the filth!"

But an out-of-the-ordinary job takes these two and the film into darker, deeper areas of loss. While the humour and the exploration of this paranormal parallel world continue, the story becomes richer and more thoughtful. One of the closing credits may explain why Nick Whitfield was prompted in this direction.

The audience at the Renoir, like the jury in Edinburgh, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the film and I would urge you to see it if you have the chance. It surely deserves a greater exposure than the screening page on the film's website currently advertise. But don't take my word for it; here's what the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph thought of it.   

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