The shadow of Quentin Tarantino looms large over Noel ‘Adulthood’ Clarke’s ambitious second film, in which four girls (Emma Roberts, Tamsin Egerton, Ophelia Lovibond and Shanika Warren-Markland) have the weekend from hell. Clarke and his co-director Mark Davis aim admirably high, pushing against British drama traditions, telling interconnected stories with a cast of oddball characters spouting quirky dialogue via a narrative that playfully keeps reality at arms length. But while the resulting mash-up of conflicting tones and styles is entertaining and features moments of bizarre inspiration, 126.96.36.199 is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.
The set-up is promising – the girls’ parallel stories play out one after another, with the film rewinding to the same initial point after each one – but Clarke’s script is undisciplined, overflowing with ideas and not focused into a coherent and meaningful whole. A constant stream of attention-grabbing cameos adds to the patched-together feel, and the more dramatic story elements aren’t developed enough to hold much weight. The four actresses are great though, and their strong performances do a lot to carry the film through its weaker moments. Ophelia Lovibond is particularly impressive.
Selected release from Wed 2 Jun.