Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Three and Out (2008)

Some film projects appear so misbegotten that one would suspect that they had no chance of succeeding. Such is the case here with this story of a would-be writer who works as an underground (subway) driver and who has the misfortune of having two people fall in front of his train in short order. His co-workers convince him that if a third fatality occurs within the same month, he will be pensioned off with ten years' salary -- an appealing idea to someone who dreams of escaping to the countryside to fulfill himself. That this central role is taken by the anorexic-looking Mackenzie Crook (of British "Office" fame and also featured in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" flicks) made me wonder even more about its chances of success. So it was fair to say that I came to this movie with extreme prejudice and only watched it because it was there.

However I must confess that it worked as a film although I am at something of a loss to explain exactly why. Crook is tempted by the prospect of "easy" money and starts searching for a would-be suicide to agree to be his third victim. This involves keeping an eye out for bridge-jumpers and logging into suicide chatrooms on the web. As the result of the latter, he meets up with Sir Anthony Sher as a French nutter who wants him to cook and eat various bits of his anatomy until there is nothing left -- an absolutely outre turn for this respected actor. This is obviously out of the question, but he does find Colm Meaney as a down-and-out wastrel who agrees to the cash-for-his-life offer as a way of trying to make things up to the wife (Imelda Staunton) and daughter (British starlet Gemma Arterton) whom he deserted some eight years back. So off they go for the weekend up North to try to mend the bridges before Monday's date with death.

Apart from the fact that it was a little offputting to see Arterton happily snogging and shagging the skeletal Crook, the scenes between Staunton and Meaney felt very real. I won't write how this tale finishes, but it is not exactly as one would have expected in any conventional movie and it did manage to become unexpectedly moving. So, so much my preconceived prejudices; there is something to be said for keeping an open mind, even at the most dire of possibilities.
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