Today: June 16, 2024

Black Pond

Taking its mockumentary cues from reality television, micro-budget indie Brit-flick Black Pond reveals through elliptical flashbacks and talking heads how the nice middle class Thompson family come to be dubbed the “Family of Killers” after a stranger dies at their dinner table and they bury his body in a local beauty spot.

Taking its
mockumentary cues from reality television, micro-budget indie Brit-flick Black
Pond reveals through elliptical flashbacks and talking heads how the nice
middle class Thompson family come to be dubbed the “Family of Killers” after a
stranger dies at their dinner table and they bury his body in a local beauty
spot.

Bumbling middle class patriarch Tom (Chris Langham) is walking his three-legged dog Boy (A three-legged
dog! How quirky, is that? Really quirky…) in the woods by Black
Pond when he meets lonely, disheveled, needy stranger Blake (Colin Hurley). The two chat awkwardly and Tom, this
being a quirky, middle class indie Brit-flick, impulsively invites Blake home
with him for dinner. Tom and his
dysfunctional family, his frosty wife, two annoying mid-twenties daughters,
their puppyish friend Tim (Will Sharpe)
form an instant connection with the damaged, fragile Blake and, when tragedy
strikes and Boy dies, closely followed by Blake, they decide to honour Blake’s bizarre
wish to be buried by Black Pond and bury them together. Unfortunately, Tim tells his
unscrupulous, unqualified therapist (Simon
Amstell
) who sells the story to the tabloids who vilify the family.

So…we’re alright now with the whole kiddie porn thing
then? Aren’t we? Are we? Are we really? There’s
a huge elephant squatting in the room between you and Black Pond and that’s the casting of Chris Langham in his first role
since he was arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for downloading child
pornography. Pulling a ‘Townsend’
and claiming the videos on his PC were just research for a role as a paedophile
(though actually becoming a convicted
nonce shows remarkable devotion to the Method
), Langham’s done his time (three
and a half months) and we should all move on. Shouldn’t we?

Regardless of his guilt or innocence and he claims to be
guilty only of hubris, ultimately only Langham knows the truth, his casting is the
most interesting thing about Black Pond. He gives a melancholic, wryly observed,
sympathetic performance as Tom that makes you remember how good an
actor Langham could be. But his personal problems loom large over the film, eclipsing it. It’s hard not to think of Langham’s conviction when Blake
surreptitiously leafs through a family album of the kids’ photos, it’s hard not
to hear a whiny, wounded note when Tom confides to the film crew: “I lost my
job because of the publicity.” You
might be watching Black Pond but all
you’re seeing is the Chris Langham show.

Apparently shot for just £25,000 in one of the director’s
parents house, Black Pond feels like
a home movie, a student vanity project.
Kingsley and Sharpe seem to have gathered together
some of their acting chums from Holby
and Casualty and thought it’d be a
spiffing wheeze to make their own film.
Problem is, it’s not very good.
A black comedy devoid of humour, the film goes nowhere. Then Simon Amstell turns up playing a
variation on the nasty, acerbic, sociopathic bully he’s built a career on as
Tim’s nasty, acerbic, sociopathic, bullying therapist whose treatment consists
mainly of ridiculing his clients.
It’s a shame he didn’t think to ad-lib some jokes too.

A middle class comedy of manners, Black Pond’s far too polite to acknowledge that we’re only watching
it and talking about it because the directors had the balls to cast Langham.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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