Director: Christopher Presswell
Featuring: Andrew Fitch, Isla Ure, Nigel Thomas, Tom Knight, Dan March
Age Rating: [Unrated]
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Christopher Presswell opens his 2015 feature CANDLESTICK with a very dark and classic piece of music and opening credits, similar to that of a Hitchcock beginning or the theme tune from the MAD MEN series. This instantly declares the genre of the film and imprints a feeling of scandal and betrayal in the viewer’s mind.
Set in spring in modern day London, this film centres on an upper class social gathering with five very impressionable personalities. Jack (Andrew Fitch), a very seedy and controlling character from the beginning, is the film’s protagonist, who organises an evening of drinking and Cluedo with his friends and family. He has four very different and complex connections with his guests; best friend Frank (Nigel Thomas), Frank’s wife Vera (Isla Ure), Jack’s uncle Major Burns (Tom Knight) and Inspector Evans (Dan March).
From the moment you meet Jack, you can tell he is set on creating trouble for people, and in particular, Frank and Vera, whom he is single-handedly driving a wedge between. His need to sleep with Vera and his exchanges with the both of them, as well as his uncle (referred to as ‘Major’ for the majority of the film), highlight his jealousy of their lives and his uncontrollable desire to manipulate all of them in this one apartment setting. Additionally, when he talks to the inspector at any point during the film he seems in awe of him and desperate to impress him.
The film is full of very intense exchanges between characters and music is used very intuitively to heighten the levels of drama and tension in the apartment. As the events of the night unfold and arguments and accusations take centre-stage, the viewer begins to experience the deviant twists and turns in this ‘Hitchcock-esque’ creation.
Astonishingly, Christopher Presswell wrote, directed and financed this project by himself with the aim to produce a story which included some classic film elements like a single location, an unwilling accomplice and the longer, extended shots, ultimately helping to bring back a particular era of cinema and “Make ‘em like they used to.”
Rather than re-creating the look and feel of the forties and fifties again, Christopher Presswell decided to base it in the present day. He made a great point about their main challenge in doing this successfully, and I think it is one they certainly managed to use to their advantage:
With all of the technological advances our world has encountered in the intervening decades, many of the most loved stories of that era would now easily be undermined by something as simple as the advent of the mobile phone, or the ability to Google somebody. Our challenge was to find a way to tell one of those stories, but incorporating any potential Achilles’ heels to the story’s strength, rather than causing the story to collapse around it.
CANDLESTICK was a very intense and interesting watch! It was brutal and cruel in places, yet playful in others, showcasing a collection of talent, which I had not encountered before, paying homage to a very classic era of film. The merging of classic cinema with a present setting was very refreshing to experience, especially after having recently watched THE APARTMENT (1960) and appreciating its full cinematic effect.
The upper class nature and over-exaggerated accents of the characters can be quite overwhelming at times, however this is again another aspect of classic cinema which is being introduced and it succeeds in making you dislike Jack instantly, the charismatic and deceiving villain.
Recommendation: If you’re a Hitchcock or Mad Men fan you will enjoy this one! Get past the irritating accents initially and you’re on for an enjoyable watch. Watch it on one of the below platforms.
Release Date (Digital, Worldwide): 19th May 2015
Distributed by Workbus Ltd.
Google Play (UK, US, Canada & Australia)
iTunes (UK, US, Canada & Australia)
VHX (Worldwide) – available from www.candlestickfilm.com
Official website: www.candlestickfilm.com
Originally written for Listen. Thanks to them for the opportunity to write this piece.
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