Black Pond

Art & Culture


Despite the endless and tiresome predictions of the demise of British cinema, each year young and imaginative directors somehow find the money to make films which are interesting, unusual and worth seeing. Last year there was Skeletons. In 2011, the award for originality on a low budget goes to this film by Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley.

These two have concocted a film that defies easy characterisation, and appears to have been put together for a minimal amount of money, yet combines comedy, tragedy, wit and insight in equal measure, simply by virtue of being built on the solid foundation of a good script.

The central system of the movie is a family, consisting of a middle aged father and mother and their grown up daughters, although there is a young man who is both of and not of the family. There is also a kind of anti-therapist, as well as the catalyst to the events that unfold, a strangely appealing man who temporarily becomes part of the family, despite no one knowing anything about him. And yet it is not just the narrative that draws us in, but the way the film is constructed.

Rather than simply tell the story from A to B, we are given each member of the family's perspective on what happened, after the event, as well as seeing the events themselves. First among equals is Tom Thompson (Chris Langham), a man who has a good heart and means well, but simply has no clue as to the effect he has on the people around him, and therefore is almost pathologically annoying – especially to his long suffering wife. In fact the family is ripe for destruction, but it takes a simple and seemingly innocent encounter involving a stranger and a dog to tip things over the edge.

I'd hate to give too much away, not because the film relies on twists and surprises, but because the gradual unfolding of events at the pace dictated by the directors is what makes it fun. It's showing at the Bath Film Festival with both directors in attendance; an evening not to miss. But if you can't come then, do seek it out, because it's not like anything else you've ever seen. In a good way.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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