A low-key British comedy-drama with witty script, smart direction and spot-on performances
There’s nothing flashy about this low-budget, low-key British comedy-drama, but it’s an absolute delight thanks to a warm and witty script, smart, no-nonsense direction and spot-on – and occasionally priceless – turns from a cast comprised largely of unknowns, aside from one lovely old lag.
Written and directed by talented first-timer Jules Bishop, it’s a coming-of-age/odd couple story in which a somewhat gormless young London lad named Kevin (played by The Bill/Holby/Eastenders alumni Theo Barklem-Biggs) is caught red-handed attempting to burglarise the home of curmudgeonly elderly recluse Philip (one-time Quadrophenia mod and national treasure Phil Davis). Initially at odds with one another, an unlikely bond based on mutual feelings of alienation begins to develop between pair that ultimately benefits both the young man, who does some much-needed growing up, and the old codger, who rediscovers the joy of youth.
There’s a good deal heart-warming humour and heart-rending drama en route to the tale’s nicely conceived bittersweet conclusion. Much of the former revolves around the interaction and shift in power balance between Kevin and Phil, while plot and character revelations generate the latter. There’s also an utterly hilarious cameo from Warren Brown (TV cop Luther’s sidekick), who plays the loan shark whose debt-collection threat forced Theo to resort to thieving and who goes by the ridiculous street name of Ninja Nigel.
Borrowed Time, which was made through Film London’s Microwave micro-budget filmmaking scheme, and which received its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year, is a heartening example of what can be down with very little in contemporary British cinema. Avoiding reliance on showy style and eschewing recourse to popular genre storytelling, Bishop has instead delivered a well-conceived, neatly executed, funny and touching film that has intelligent things to say about youth and old age. Given the chance, Borrowed Time will be a crowd-pleaser.
Selected release from Fri 13 Sep.