Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 25 minutes, Director – Neil Maskell
A government whistle-blower (Amit Shah) and his wife (Sura Dohnke) must wait in a remote Belgian cottage with two armed bodyguards (Tom Burke, Roger Evans) whilst they await the arrival of a journalist (Jenna Coleman)
With Klokkenluider Neil Maskell proves just how broad the branches can reach, and themselves be, from the initial roots of dark humour. Through anxiety, fear, awkwardness and struggling-to-play-to-character there’s plenty to laugh at throughout the simple premise of the film. It’s one that could perhaps be played out on stage, yet thanks to Maskell’s writing and direction, and the performances of the small cast, there’s plenty to help make this fit the screen.
We meet Ewan (Amit Shah) – a man who is “pretty much in a state of permanent f*cking panic” – and his wife Silke (Sura Dohnke) residing in a remote cottage in Belgium. An innocent trip to the bakery in the nearby village is soon twisted as Ewan fears that it might give away the location he and his wife are at, especially whilst they wait for bodyguards to arrive. The reason for their escape, and the protection, is due to their impending whistleblowing after the government IT worker discovers shocking secrets whilst at work – secrets which are sustained with mystery and threat throughout as we never discover what they are. Once the tough-guy figures of Tom Burke and Roger Evans arrive all that’s needed is the journalist (Jenna Coleman) to leak the story to.
Unprofessionalism rises as the bottles are opened, and indeed Evans’ character finds it difficult to keep his own secrets – “you’re about as hush hush as Metallica”. We see him and Burke struggle with each other as the ‘tough-guy’ schtick is quickly dropped. While they try to keep that persona in such an unexpected and unconventional situation it’s difficult to do so, providing a number of laughs both from them and the responses of Shah and Dohnke. This is a true ensemble comedy and the performances all bounce off each other excellently with the various gags which crop up throughout, gaining plenty of response. All helping to push and proceed the simple premise.
Yet, no one manages to outshine Jenna Coleman as soon as she properly walks onto the scene. Bringing a gloriously sweary performance which could rival Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges she powers through them all twice-over within a minute or two of being on screen. Pushing forward the next stage of the film in a way only her character could in this film it’s a fantastic show-stealing performance which manages to bring in the following stages of true darkness, and potential tension, as the film begins to play with its elements of mystery to bring the viewer further in as the reveal of the reason for all of these events comes more into play.
In the build up we have a film about waiting and the humour of it, tinged with the anxiety of consequences and holding potentially vital information. While only 85 minutes long the film manages to pack plenty of laughs in to its conversations and interactions. Rattling along quickly while managing to get across the feeling and humour of an awkward, drawn-out evening. Maskell himself has worked with Ben Wheatley in the past and there are certainly tones of his style in this particular film. Held within the darkness, portrayed in both tone, structure and performances. It all comes together to create something highly entertaining within the lightly sinister edges.
There’s plenty of darkness wound into Klokkenluider, mixed into the humour of anxiety and waiting the performances highlight all of this within the frequently funny conversations and contrasting characters, including a triumphantly sweary standout turn from Jenna Coleman.