I love a Man in Uniform

Director: David Wellington

Henry Adler, a shy, retiring bank clerk, realises his acting ambitions when he lands the part of tough guy sergeant Flanigan in a tacky TV cop show. Taking the costume home to psych himself into the role makes him feel like a new man: sporting the full black leather ragalia, he acquires a sense of self importance he can’t wait to test out by walking the streets and passing himself off as a rela police officer. At first, Canadian writer director David Wellington’s debut feature plays Henry’s misadventures as dark comedy, manoeuvring him into a few close calls with the genuine fuzz: but when shooting begins on the authentically cheesy Crimewave and Henry’s off-screen relationship with his co star fails to develop as satisfactorily as scripted liaison with the hooker she’s playing, Wellington’s wider scheme falls neatly into place.
With a passing nod to Taxi Driver, the film seeks to draw out the troubling gulf between Henry’s actual and imagined selves and indeed, between the world of disappointment and compromise we inhabit and the realm or moral simplicity and glamorised authority represented by so much pulp TV. Tom McCamus’s compelling lead performance delineates the increasingly violent results when one anguished individual starts blurring the distinctions, while Wellington’s ambitious direction is provocative and disturbing in the way it leaves viewers to decide how much their own sympathies are implicated in this power trip from alienation to outright psychosis. Even if the apparently inevitable nihilism makes for an unsatisfying conclusion, the film is a most unnerving experience, not least because of its implicit assumption that a fully armed police force is wont to be more than a little trigger happy.

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