Today: February 28, 2024

Booked Out

Self-confessed indie film Booked Out feels – for the first half an hour – like an episode of Skins.

Self-confessed
indie film Booked Out feels – for the first half an hour – like an episode of
Skins.

Maybe it’s just not the ‘Hollywood’ finish we’re accustomed to but there’s
something immediately uneasy about the unfamiliar faces and stripped back
location that makes everything feel a bit, well, flat.

And that’s before the guitar strumming soundtrack gets started.

Booked Out is the first outing for writer and director Bryan O’Neil, telling the tale of
aspiring graphic novelist Ailidh (Mirren
Burke
) and the lives of those who also call her Battersea block of flats
home.

Ailidh, with her mismatching clothes and quirky sense of sarcastic
humour, is a true eccentric, who has become quietly obsessed with keeping up
with the lives of her fellow residents. Especially Jacob (Rollo Weeks), of Girl With
The Pearl Earring
and The Little Vampire
fame; a young chap with floppy hair and a tentative smile who visits the
flat opposite every day. She’s even taken to photographing his every entry into
and exit from the flats.

Despite such attention to detail, she does, however, remain oblivious to
the truth about Jacob’s desperately sad and reclusive female friend, Jacqueline
(Claire Garvey) and the reason for
his frequent visits. And credit where credit’s due, so does the viewer.

The interactions between these three characters, and the lonely lady
upstairs still doting on her dead husband (Sylvia
Syms)
, form the basis of what eventually evolves into a fairly fuzzy
exploration of love and loss in London.

Beneath the slightly wooden exterior and kitschy opening credits, there
is a slushy undertone that does eventually take the viewer in. It’s thought
provoking in the sense that it reminds us of the little eccentricities in all
of us, the ever intertwined lives we lead, and what we forget to prioritise in
our pursuit of happiness. As Jacob puts it in one of the first scenes, it
reminds us why we should ‘like being weird’.

What the film does irritatingly seem to gloss over is that tracking
someone’s every movement is usually considered quite socially unacceptable, and
a hobby that shouldn’t be rewarded – at one point we even see a giddy Ailidh
dancing round to music with a Polaroid photo of Jacob. It appears that we are
expected to find such commitment to the cause endearing and revel in her
neurosis rather than express concern for his welfare.

In many ways we can understand Ailidh’s affection for Jacob – he’s
mysterious and unassuming – and he does own a nice cardigan or two. There’s
something appealing about Weeks’ boyish charm and while at points his lines are
few, he has genuine warmth and presence. Burke on the other hand takes some
getting used to. There’s something initially grating about her melodic Scottish
trill, which combined with an abundance of eccentric energy, risks erring a
little on the side of children’s TV presenter as the plot warms up and the
pair’s adventures begin.

And warm up it does, as the characters begin to flesh themselves out and
the story starts to gather momentum through our two protagonists. There are
some standout moments from Garvey and Syms
too, adding depth and a tinge of sadness to the mainly upbeat storyline.

Essentially, its simplicity starts to grow on you as the story twists
and winds. As does Ailidh – sort of. It could, admittedly, be the fancy dress
party that sees her don an inventive ‘pengaroo’ costume that marks the
transition.

Ultimately, this film has all the right intentions, and does boast a
certain charm: it’s quirky and indie, just as it sets out to be. However, while
it will tickle certain film fans’ tastebuds and no doubt provide a springboard for
these young actors’ careers, it sadly winds up falling short of entirely
satisfying.

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

Previous Story

Piranha 3DD

Next Story

Columbus Circle

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Lone Star – Criterion Collection

Rarely in cinema do you come across a filmmaker as versatile as Lone Star writer-director John Sayles. Here is a man who cut his Hollywood teeth working for Roger Corman, got early

Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory is a curious beast. It’s a war film whose battles are mostly fought in a court room. It’s a Kubrick epic, that feels like a small, claustrophobic indie movie.

Monolith

Monolith is a film that delights and surprises in equal measure. This low-fi, slow burn thriller is part science fiction, part social commentary, with just the right amount of bumps and jumps

Billions Complete Series Unboxing

As Paul Giamatti remains a frontrunner in the race for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor with his beautifully layered performance in The Holdovers, there’s no better time to catch up

Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy Unboxing

The heat is on. Eddie Murphy’s beloved street-smart Detroit cop Axel Foley is coming back to our screens in the highly-anticipated fourth entry in the Beverly Hills Cop series this summer, so
Go toTop