Beyond The Pole
- Tom Dawson
- 29 March 2010
Based on a Radio 4 comedy series, writer-director David L Williams’s semi-improvised mockumentary Beyond the Pole follows the hapless efforts of amateur explorers Mark (Stephen Mangan) and Brian (Rhys Thomas) to raise consciousness about global warming. Sporting ‘Don’t be impotent, Be important’ t-shirts, the duo concoct a plan to become the first ever ‘unsupported, carbon neutral, organic, vegetarian expedition’ to reach the North Pole. Lacking in athleticism, equipment and resources, they pitch up at the Arctic Circle ill-prepared for the challenge from a rival Norwegian team.
It’s unclear what exactly writer and director Williams is sending up. Is this a satire on the fabled British underdog spirit? A parody of Touching the Void style heroism? Or is this intended to mock the sanctimonious behaviour of middle-class climate-change activists like Mark, who compares himself to a Tiananmen Square protestor when confronted by a 4x4 vehicle? Shot in a fake vérité manner, it’s a sporadically amusing adventure, in which the lead actors struggle to handle the material’s awkward tonal shifts.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 2-Mon 5 Apr.