Dir: Stewart Alexander & Kerry Skinner (2014)
This micro budget slice of London life unashamedly wears its sweetness on its sleeve but it also has a real amateur charm; The ramshackle story lines sometime smack of stage play first timers at the reins, the dialogue is often stilted and the performances sometime misfire and even fail but there’s a heart to the film which manages to push through the am-dram pacing and words. First timers Stewart Alexander and Kerry Skinner (on and off-screen) tie a multitude of characters together in a story set entirely on one of London’s green parks with the search for a missing parrot.
A distant homeless man pounds out a song on a can of cold baked beans, a pregnant woman goes into labour in front of a group of boy scouts, an old couple discuss a Thelma and Louise style “ending” in their twilight years, a man struggles to take care of his finances and his daughter and group of park drinkers put the world to rights. The sheer tweeness of the film has been brutally attacked in most mainstream reviews but there is something going on underneath Common People. Although the writing and the acting often feels stilted, it’s impossible to be angry with the optimism of the underlying themes of race, togetherness and the financial side of life.
If you disregard the framing and where Common People is hung it still remains a sweet and kind picture. Sam Kelly and Diana Payan are the best thing on-screen here as the old couple with a new love for mobility scooters. These micro budget slices of life are ten a penny these days but there are elements which fight against the average script. The score by Tom Hodge which veers between Gassenhauer‘s Badlands xylophones and typical american comedy scores ups the production to no end as does Andrew Johnson‘s clean and green cinematography. If you can get past the simplicity and take the tidal wave of twee there’s a sweet joy in Alexander and Skinner’s tiny film and if you can find it as a “Londoner” then you can find it as a person.