Melanie (Nora Tschirner) is a young woman living out a dull existence in an English seaside town, her life crawls along until she meets Ray (Rob Knighton in his second feature performance), a recently divorced gangster-type back in town for one last job. Without a doubt the most charming and impressive feature to debut at EIFF this year, one of those films that comes along once in a blue moon and manages to hold its own amongst the vast array of features fighting for the spotlight. It sounds like a screwball gangster flick with a hint of Lost in Translation, which it could be billed as, but you’d be missing the point. Even though it flaunts moments of comedy and does indeed slip in a gangster undertone, it’s so much more.
Directed by the collective Jones, Everyone’s Going to Die takes a tried and tested formula for British sob-stories and goes back to basics, narratively speaking it’s a simple enough film; Ray and Melanie potter about exploring the tedium of their lives and getting up to mischief. There’s a sombre mood clinging to most of the film that is time and time again shattered with Coen brother-style cock-ups or heart-warming scenes between the film’s spellbinding central performances.
The opening scenes hark at Less Than Zero, a ruined house the morning after a party shot with virtually no sound in a drab palette of greys, Melanie wandering the halls dressed as Chaplin cutting a, surely iconic, silhouette. Ray is forced into black suit and tie after his enraged wife vandalises the rest of his clothes and turfs him out, forcing the gangster into a dangerously stereotypical but hilariously referential costume. Ray goes to meet his recently deceased estranged brother‘s family only to find his brother may have reincarnated into a cat. The humour here is right on the mark, the zaniness of the script is one of its strongest features ensuring it doesn’t fade into the background as another exercise in loneliness. There’s nothing superficial about Everyone’s Going to Die, everything has substance to it.
The key to the whole show is the relationship between Tschirner and Knighton. Genuine care and love for the characters is inspired through a damaged but reserved performance on both counts. Both are trapped at a still point, a dead end from which they really believe there’s no escaping. The boredom of dead-end lives never transfers to the viewer though, instead the narrative throws the odd couple into bizarre waters; job changes, a reincarnated brother, a wiccan family, the hotel TV stuck on Gay chat lines, the little ridiculous details keep the two ultimately grounded characters on their toes. No matter how ridiculous the situation, Jones put the scene across in such a deadpan manner, the slightest ticks on Ray’s face are all you need to pick up on some of the driest humour put to film recently.
If one film deserves your attention this year it should be this one. It’s a heart-warming, often hilarious, sometimes heart-breaking tale of loneliness and the human need for companionship. It’s a love film sans love and a gangster film without gangsters. A powerhouse set of performances from the magnificent Nora Tschirner and Rob Knighton ensures the film is never dull or misfired and as for Jones, the stunning look of the film and the genius of the script ensures they are a talent to keep your eye out for.
A gem of a film; bittersweet, concise, thought-provoking, and above all entirely captivating, Everyone’s Going to Die is one of the most impressive British films going about just now.