Saturday, August 15, 2015

British miserablism gets another go-round in Joseph Bull & Luke Seomore's BLOOD CELLS

Last noted by TrustMovies in Paddy Considine's directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, and then again in that very fine example, The Selfish Giant by Clio Barnard, the sub-genre of British miserablism seems to surface via a new rendition every year or so. The latest to hit screens -- or in this case, DVD and VOD -- is a just-about adequate example of both the genre and of British movie-making. BLOOD CELLS (its not especially auspicious or revealing title would seem to be more at home in the zombie genre) tells the tale of a lonely, disconnected man named Adam (Barry Ward, above and further below) who appears to have been traumatized by some family incident in his semi-distant past.

We get clues to this and to just about everything else in the film, as the movie-makers -- Luke Seomore and Joseph Bull (above, left and right, respectively) -- like to tease us with snippets without telling us almost anything outright or point blank. I'm all for subtlety, but after awhile this sort of thing can seem more like arbitrary withholding. In any case, the whatever-it-is has rendered our Adam seemingly incapable of family connection and perhaps not much of any other kind.

When the upcoming birth of his brother's child calls Adam back to the fold, it's trauma-time anew, and our hero very cautiously attempts to find his way home. Along that way, he encounters a number of odd/interesting folk who offer him solace (with a price), temporary companionship, and other miserablism-type delights. The darkest of these is the opportunity for him and his girlfriend to perform sexually in front of a bevy of old men in a bath-house. The sweetest involves a pair of young girls who use our hero to buy them some alcohol.

Big-time father issues surface from the beginning and wend their way throughout the film, culminating in a "reveal" that, while explanatory, seems too little too late. (Dad was apparently a cattle or dairy farmer who experienced the complete desolation of his herd.) The finale, too, after all we've seen and all our hero has experienced, seems like sentimental sap.

Still, the acting is solid, from everyone and throughout, and the dense, dark look of the film certainly fits its theme and locale. Cinematography is also on target, though, at this point in miserablism time, we've seen an awfully lot of this kind of thing. The genre works best when there's plenty of character specifics on view; here, what we get is mostly glum and repetitive.

On balance, the movie pretty much breaks even. There's certainly as much to appreciate as there is to question. Blood Cellsdistributed by Garden Thieves Pictures and produced with the help of Gucci (of all companies! Is it attempting to mix a little "reality" into its uber-high-end image?), hits the street on DVD, as well as simultaneously being available via VOD, this coming Monday, August 17. Click here for more information.

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