Film - Sick of It All

Showing at Raindance Film Festival on 24th September, Steve Taylor-Bryant finds Lefthouse Films as healthy as ever with Sick of It All...

I was lucky enough a few years ago to stumble across a writer and director by the name of Brian McGuire. Thanks to his production company Lefthouse Films becoming a "regular" at Raindance Film Festival, I have had the pleasure of watching Window Licker and 1 World 100 Lonely, both very different types of films. This year Brian is back at Raindance with a noir style comedy called Sick of It All.

I have to be honest here and say I was a little nervous for this film. I really admire Brian and the guys at Lefthouse Films but noir? That is really hard to pull off. It’s not just about filming in black and white and getting the shadowing right, it has to have a certain feel…

Sick of It All has everything.

The filmed style of noir is all there. Sick of It All has all the elements you would want from a 1940’s style film but with its dialogue still very much grounded in the modern reality we live in today. The balance between these two elements is nigh on perfect and the visual appeal of the film is stunning.

To back up perfect looks and to drive the dialogue to somewhere it needs to go, you must get the casting right and Sick of it All gets most things right in this regard. The young man playing LP, Zion McGuire, plays both the innocence of youth, the child trapped in a relationship with his parents that is far from good, and the wisdom of a boy who has seen it all really well and I firmly believe Zion has a great future ahead of him. Whilst LP was essential to the story told here, he wasn’t really required on screen as much as you might think and the film makers again got the balance right between LP’s involvement and his sitting back with his drawing pad whilst the “grown-ups” talk.

Instead Logan Sparks, as Antony, is who the camera trains on the most. He played the downtrodden husband and the realist in the room with just the right amount of noir style overacting, very punchy in his responses, and a physicality that reminds me of the weary detectives of yesteryear which really helped keep the noir feel alive. He was the straight man if you will. His brother Barbra (Emmet McGuire) was the fool. A simple man, panicky, knows what he wants but doesn’t really understand how to get it, unconventional in his actions, and a joy to watch. There is a scene near the end, where Barbra undergoes some hippy type therapy that Antony doesn’t believe in, and Emmet McGuire owns the entire scene in a way I have only really seen Brad Pitt do in his hospital scenes in Twelve Monkeys. McGuire was astonishing, he played simple, he played almost insane and he played anger, and never once was my attention elsewhere. This level of acting needs recognition and I truly hope to see big things in McGuire’s future.

Amy Claire as Rose, Antony’s wife, was great although she was not given as much dialogue towards the end scene as I would have liked, which left Chris Doubek, as the hippy, trust fund “healer,” with quite a bit to carry off which he managed brilliantly by the way, I just would have liked a bit more of a Camillian/Rose tag team than we got. However, this is just a very small criticism of an overall brilliant film. Add in the almost slapstick comedy from Jason and Randy Sklar as police officers Feltcher and Recum and a wonderful yet brief appearance by Harry Dean Stanton as the newsreader and Sick of it All delivers all it should.

The closing scene is a bit more magical than the rest of the semi-real story but leaves you with the feeling that you have definitely seen a movie from Lefthouse Films and it's excellent work by all involved in the closing song which has quite a modern and depressing twist in its almost Sinatra like tribute.

Brian McGuire and LeftHouse Films have delivered something different for the third year on the spin, made a love letter to noir, entertained with aplomb, introduced a cast I want to see again and have left me pining for next year’s festival and a fourth appearance. Bravo guys!

Find out more about the film and book tickets to see it at Raindance here

Images - Lefthouse Films

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