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GYPO

Director: JAN DUNN

U.K. • 2005 • COLOUR • DIGITAL VIDEO • 98 MIN


THERE WOULDN’T REALLY BE MUCH POINT TRUMPETING THIS SINEWY DRAMA AS BRITAIN’S VERY FIRST FULLYCERTIFIED ‘DOGME’ FILM, BUT IT WOULD BE A CRYING SHAME IF THIS GRIPPING PIECE OF STORYTELLING WAS OVERLOOKED SIMPLY BECAUSE ITS MODUS OPERANDI IS NO LONGER FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH.
True, writer-director Jan Dunn’s debut feature eschews artificial light, a conventional score or even a tripod, yet does so not out of affectation, but to key back into the raw realism at which British cinema has always excelled. Like Pawel Pawlikowski’s Last Resort, the setting is an unlovely town on England’s South coast, where Paul McGann’s local tradesman is not the only one simmering with resentment at the tide of European immigrants. His long-suffering wife Pauline McLynn also bears the brunt of his frustration, and it’s from her perspective that we first see events unfold, as their domestic discord is affected by the arrival of a young Czech refugee (Chloe Sirene) brought home by their teenage daughter. Intriguingly, we then experience the same events from the point of view of the acidic husband, then through the eyes of the newcomer, the accretion of detail compellingly filling out our understanding of these tangled lives. Shot inside a fortnight, often in single takes, the film’s fearless immediacy asks everything of the cast, who prove equal to every challenge. McLynn excels as a prematurely middle-aged housewife who still retains the capacity for love despite everything, while McGann’s rasping, confrontational turn slays the ghost of Withnail & I once and for all. —Trevor Johnston.

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