I know what you’re thinking, and don’t worry – I’d never heard of this film either. A quick scan of films showing last week at my local cinema threw up this title and the fact that it was on its last day. A further check on the internet showed it had only been out a week. A week?! And its run was already ending?! That’s crazy talk! So oddly enough my motivation for going to see this film was a mix of obligation… and pity…
Crying with Laughter is a British Independent offering about stand up comedian Joey Frisk, whose life is basically pretty shit; then with the appearance of a mysterious man named Frank from his past, manages somehow to get even shittier. Events soon spiral out of control and Joey’s puzzlement of whether or not he even knows Frank is soon swept aside for more pertinent questions: What the hell is going on?! And (perhaps more importantly) what the hell has it got to do with me?!
Me being Joey. Not me. Obviously.
Delving into details and intricacies would only spoil a large part of what makes this film so great but – as has become standard fare for my reviews – there’s one scene that I want to mention that wonderfully (or somewhat conveniently) serves to summarise what I either loved or loathed about the film. Loved in this case.
In the inevitable all is revealed scene towards the end of the movie, [bad guy] explains his reasonings for all the strange goings on and our lead guy Joey just kind of sits by helpless because, well you know, he’s already been punched in the face and shocked with a cattle prod. It was wonderfully observed that our hero isn’t a hero in this case, he’s just a normal guy caught up in some crazy happenings and if not interfering and being quiet stops him from being electrocuted or punched again or whatever, even if only for the moment, well then that’s the obvious course of action isn’t it?
It’s little scenes like this that are peppered throughout the course of the film which really lend the narrative a sort of credibility which you don’t find in bigger budget/studio movies. Sure the events are pretty far removed from reality, but because of the humanity attached they occur in a sort of believable way which, if anything, is one of Crying with Laughter’s greatest strengths.
It was really refreshing to see an independent offering like this that didn’t remotely feel independent. A large part of this surely comes down to first time writer & director Justin Molotnikov but he’s not the only person in this ensemble who deserves credit. The cast entire was a joy to watch and as far as I can tell this film is the big screen debut for the majority, if not all of them. It’s always promising to see a film succeed on the back of new talent, as it makes you appreciate that it’s not just the big guns with the huge stars and the massive wallets who can put something together with polish and gravitas.
And of course, I have to complain about something… For a film shot in and around Edinburgh – my home city – I didn’t really recognise any of the locales, that being until the last twenty or so minutes when obligatory shots of the Royal Mile, the Scott Monument, the Meadows and that souvenir shop that has the bagpipes blaring just next to George IV Bridge all crowbar themselves in. It may be the cynic in me that thinks that there was some sort of funding obligation for the inclusion of scenes shot in obvious places but the fact is that these shots don’t really add anything to the movie and perhaps even serve to act to its detriment; negating the pleasing anywhere feel of the earlier events.
Anywho that’s something and nothing really – and more the old man in me speaking rather than any sort of comment on quality. This is easily one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen all year and remember, I’ve seen a lot of movies already. If this just so happens to be playing at your local independent then definitely definitely check it out – saying that though having checked the film’s website it only seems to have shown at most places for one week; so check here before rushing out and if it’s not in your area then certainly give it a view when it’s out on DVD.
It’s not like me to get on my soapbox but the unfortunate truth is that this isn’t the kind of film that’s going to gain a cult following, slowly get bigger & better known and earn anyone involved any kind of real money, and that’s a real shame because in five years time if the guys involved are still making movies, people will look back at this and think “how the hell did I miss that first time around?!” The sad fact of the matter is, if movies like this don’t make any money then the guys involved might not feasibly be able to carry on in the industry. So make sure you watch this when it comes out on DVD or else I’ll blame you directly for the death of British cinema.
And now you have three reasons to see this film; obligation, pity and guilt.