7 out of 10
Release Date: 3rd February 2012
Director: David Blair
Cast: Stephen Graham, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Maxine Peake, Emma Stansfield, Lee Ingleby, Sarah Parks, Stuart Wolfenden with Peter Wight and David O’Hara
Trailer: BEST LAID PLANS
This imaginative jazz riff on John Steinbeck’s Of Mice Men re-locates the action to the city of Nottingham. Stephen Graham’s (DOGHOUSE) Danny is the unofficial carer of a giant man child called Joseph played by Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (LOST). Danny is in essence a good man who’s poverty and station in life force him to do bad things. So with an increasing regularity he begins to exploit Joseph’s good will to bail him out of one bad situation to the next. This culminates when local crime lord, Curtis (DAVID O’HARA – CONTRABAND) catches up with the pair demanding payment of an old debt. Does this sound depressingly familiar? Well to the main pair’s credit they pull off difficult roles with ease. The dynamic between the fly, Danny and the loveable Joseph is so convincing. The film never gets too sentimental or over manipulative. When Danny has to persuade the indestructible Joseph to enter some brutal and illegal boxing matches for Curtis you feel a real pull. Danny’s debt to Curtis is so big that Joseph has to fight his way through half a dozen bouts. Dread and the potential for tragedy lurks around ever turn in this movie.
Other plot lines weave their way in and out of the story, Danny meets a working girl (EMMA STANSFIELD), who may be his way out of his downward spiral. Joseph also takes his first tentative steps towards having a girlfriend when he meets Isabel (MAXINE PEAKE – PRIVATE PEACEFUL) who has cerebral palsy. These two women shed light on some interesting parts of the leads characters and also serve to cause conflict between them. An outsider gives Joseph a different perspective on life, showing him just how much Danny relies on him as well and crucially, exactly how much money he is withholding from him from the fights and maybe his government benefits.
The acting, plot and screenplay are all spot on. Stephen Graham has rarely been better, giving us another Liverpudlian gargoyle to file with Combo from This Is England. I never even realised that Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje was a UK based actor, having only seen him in supporting roles Hollywood movies like GI Joe and The Bourne Identity, and this role has echoes of the late Michael Clarke Duncan‘s John Coffey in The Green Mile. Perfect casting on all fronts. Best Laid Plans could have descended into melodrama but everything is believable. The inclusion of organised crime bosses is a touch Hollywood but it’s also the makers credit that even Curtis has a place within the film’s universe. Nottingham is a fascinating city to set such a tale and mixing familiar sites with the grimy, unpopulated industrial areas is a good look. Director David Blair has had a long track record of in TV series’ and the odd film. Best Laid Plans looks like a brave step in a new direction, and based on this I hope gets to offer us more British films about very interesting people in equally interesting situations.
7 out of 10 – A great acting showcase for the two leads. This more or less takes it’s cues from Of Mice & Men but it isn’t slavish to the source, offering enough variation to be it’s own beast. Recommended wholeheartedly.
SECOND REVIEW BY JOE PESCI II AKA MATT USHER BELOW
WHAT HAVE IS SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Stephen Graham: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Hyena, Boardwalk Empire (TV), Get Santa, Blood (2013), This Is England 88 (TV), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Texas Killing Fields, The Season Of The Witch, London Boulevard, The Crew, This Is England 86 (TV), Awaydays, The Good Night, Public Enemies, This Is England, Doghouse, The Damned Utd, Inkheart, Goal, Snatch, Coronation Street (TV), Downtime
- Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje: Pompeii, Thor 2, Bullet To The Head, The Thing – Prequel, GI: Joe – The Rise Of Cobra, Lost (TV), Faster, The Killer Elite, Bullet To The Head, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, The Bourne Identity, The Mummy Returns, Ace Ventura 2, Congo
- Maxine Peake: The Falling, The Theory of Everything, Keeping Rosy, Run & Jump, The Village (TV), Silk (TV), Svengali, Private Peaceful, See No Evil (TV), Clubbed
- Emma Stansfield: Coronation Street (TV)
- Lee Ingleby: Doghouse, Insp.George Gently (TV), Borstal Boy
- Stuart Wolfenden: Rough and Ready, Elevator Gods, Book of the Dead, Dead Man’s Shoes, Coronation Street (TV)
- Peter Wight: Kon Tiki, Mr Turner, The Look Of Love, My Week With Marilyn, Hardboiled Sweets, Ghosted, Clone, Another Year, Cass, Hot Fuzz, Babel, Flood, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Vera Drake, Shiner, Naked, Meantime
- David O’Hara: Contraband, Cowboys & Aliens, Wanted, The Kid (2010), Jack Falls, Jack Said, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Doomsday, The Departed, Hotel Rwanda, The Match, The Devil’s Own, Some Mother’s Son, The Near Room, Braveheart, The Bridge (1992)