Tuesday 21 May 2013

Dark Review - Straightheads

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Straightheads Review 

By Casey Douglass 


Directed and Written by : Dan Reed

Starring : Danny Dyer , Gillian AndersonAnthony Calf , Ralph Brown.

Straightheads is a revenge film, and would happily be filed in the “Revenge Film” section of the local rental store, if they had such a section, and if those stores still existed. However, it would be doing it a great disservice to label it as such and leave it at that. It is a revenge film done right. It isn’t the cheesy kind of 80s film which takes a shallow look at the victim-aggressor relationship and wraps it up in corny one liners. Rather, it revels in a surprising amount of depth and moral complexity, happy to occupy the grey areas of the moralistic compass, rather than live at the extremes.

Adam (Dyer) is a security guy hired by Alice (Anderson) to fit her stylish modern house with a security system that would not be amiss in a jewellery shop or some kind of bordello. She then invites him to the house-warming party of her boss, giving him a nice suit and a wry smile, seeing him as just another accessory to her outfit. On their way home from the party, after some nocturnal fumbling in a nearby woodland, they are attacked by a group of men. Adam is severely beaten and practically left for dead. Alice is dragged from the car and raped for the sport and merriment of the trio. This is the catalyst, the event that sets Adam and Alice on their path of revenge.

There are some interesting themes running through the film, alongside the self-evident revenge thread. One is the irony of having a security system fitted, and then spending the rest of the evening acting recklessly and taking risks whilst driving and debauching. Another lovely touch is the hand of fate or coincidence in causing the events to transpire in the way they do. Fate causes Adam and Alice to be stopped and vulnerable on a narrow country line, yet a short time later, fate also provides Alice with the means not only to track down one of the men responsible, but also gives her the means to accomplish it.

I really enjoyed how the main characters all occupy various grey areas in their morality, and yet changed as the film went on. Dyer plays the reluctant Adam with his usual guy-who-has-seven-shades-knocked-out-of-him bloody grimace and his attempts to cope with his physical injuries via booze and getting high. Alice is his opposite, played by Anderson as an outwardly calm independent person who sets out to get her revenge via any means necessary. There is in interesting scene half way through the film where she asks Adam to tell her what to do, and while at the time it felt odd, a little thought seems to suggest it was her way of making Adam part of the unfolding events, rather than be a moaning spectator. It was truly interesting to see how Alice and Adam interact with each other. I suspect that had the events of that night not happened, they would have just been two bodies up for a one night stand and then parted ways. They are thrown together by the awful event, but even that event is later explained by more moral shades of grey.

The film revels in tempting the characters to cross various “lines” and then, through their behaviour and sometimes erratic actions, it can be seen that they pay a very real price for pushing themselves on, possibly becoming like the very men they despised at the start. It is of great credit to Dyer and Anderson that they play this game of moral brinkmanship incredibly well. If you like surprising films acted very well, with a dash of bloody revenge and nudity, give Straightheads a try.

Rating : 5/5

The review can also be found on Generic Movie Blog Uk here.