Gatecrash review – opaque auto-accident drama

A car crash provokes a torrent of toxic masculinity, but this strange film is neither surreal nor psychologically insightful enough

Adapted from a play by Terry Hughes, this pent-up and then purgatively violent drama revolves around an offscreen car accident that sends a handful of characters colliding into each other. Clearly already dancing a miserable tango of abuse, Nicole (Olivia Bonamy) and Steve (Ben Cura) come home to their isolated house in the country, decorated in shades of taupe, grey and plum to match Nicole’s bruises, after Steve runs over a stranger on the road on the way home from a party. Though he was driving and chose to leave the scene of the crime, he still blames Nicole for distracting him with an argument. As this display of toxic masculinity approaches its full operatic pitch, suddenly there’s someone at the door: policeman (Samuel West), all creepy chirpy banter, who’s wondering if they’ve seen anything strange lately.

There’s quite a lot that’s strange here, including repeated chunks of dialogue that transfer from one character to another, the opaque motivations of several characters, and whether some of this is meant to be fantasy or just heavy-handed melodrama. Plus, there’s a mysterious second-act appearance from another creepy character named Sid, played by Anton Lesser (best known on TV for Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall). Lesser is the best thing in this, giving a layered performance that hints at a backstory that the actor at least may have conceived in detail even if the screenplay, credited to director Lawrence Gough and Alan Pattinson, doesn’t give him much to work with. Perhaps this worked better on stage, but as film it’s neither fish nor fowl, lacking neither the surrealism to give it a Lynchian dream logic, nor the psychological insight to make it work as realism.

• Available on digital platforms.

Contributor

Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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