We first became aware of film makers Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley, through a chance viewing of their oddly macabre and intriguing 2011 debut Black Pond. Then earlier this year Sharpe wrote, directed and acted in Flowers, a wonderfully odd 6 part TV series. Last weekend we were fortunate to attend a showing of the latest collaboration between Sharpe and Kingsley, “The Darkest Universe” at The Cube, which featured a Q & A with the pair after the screening.
In line with the previous work that these two have worked on, the film is both oddly affecting and funny. It’s an emotional road trip of sorts as Zac Pratt (Will Sharpe) sets on a journey to find his sister Alice ( played by co writer Tina Ghosh). As with many siblings, the pair are very different and their diametrically opposed take on life and the inherent conflicts that this produces, form the opening of the film.
We watch as their lives unfold in wildly contrasting ways after Alice moves to live on a houseboat that Zac owns. Where previously one appeared to be in control and purposeful, whilst the other was rootless and unfocused, things start to change. We follow, sometimes in agonising embarrassment as one life falls apart, whilst the other develops in unexpected ways.
There are moments of great joy, as we see happiness emerge where once there was none. But for every up there is a corresponding down. Conclusions are hard to find as an other worldly element enters the film, leaving us straddling the boarders of fantasy and reality. This though, all helps to create a special feeling for this delightfully thought provoking film.
We don't like to give away too much in terms of plot, so will leave any discussion of the films narrative at this point. What we can say though is how much we enjoyed the film. As with Black Pond the film is riddled with black humour, especially so as the search becomes ever more desperate. It is though also very touching on the nature of loss and the the impact that this can have on the mental health of those impacted by it.
As an aside in the Q & A that followed the screening Sharpe and Kingsley were asked how the budget for the film compared to the £25,000 that they spent on Black Pond?
“Oh, about the same figure” was the reply, although they admitted that a lot of favours were called in from cast and crew.
A staggering achievement in these days of huge film budgets. Initially the film appears to be being taken around the country to selected cinemas by its creators. Hopefully it also has some sort of distribution deal in place allowing a reasonable number of people to see this beautiful slice of independent British film making.