In the house of his ancestors, a man waits for the return of the love of his life.

SFR Awards 2019: Best film; six other category nominations

Genre: Drama

Length: 14:12

Free To View

4 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Baobab,

Director/s : Baobab, 

Writer/s : Baobab, 

Actor/s : Tim McGill, Julie Haves


Fly on the wall

Pieces of paper float down to the wooden floor in a dark hallway. A man in a dressing gown walks past, then the papers flutter back up towards the ceiling. We’re in a strange place, if not a mad one.

He voices dyspeptic thoughts, about flies, dead and dying, and symbols of death and decay. His thoughts are poetic, but not self-consciously so. “God loves the world so much he takes it for himself.” Something was lost, and he’s trapped in that loss with no desire to escape. The drama is of a man against himself and his memories. “Not a God at all, a roulette wheel that’s forgotten why it spins.” Great lines, and they need to be, or a voiced-over internal monologue will be tiresome.

Baobab Theatre and Film, a collective of Jason Housecroft, Phil John and Tim McGill, credit themselves jointly as writers, directors and producers. McGill plays the man. Boabab blend physical theatre and multi-media, and here they use film to expand on the possibilities afforded by a stage play.

Don’t imagine they are theatricals floundering in an unfamiliar medium, because there’s more filmmaking flair here than most specialist directors muster. Movement is sped up or slowed down, colours are saturated or all-but removed, angles are invented. Add some brilliantly effective editing trickery, not just the opening, but also a clever sequence that speeds up a visiting doctor’s lecture while slowing down the man’s movements. Yet it’s done with purpose, not just to show off. These guys are not beginners.

But is it caught between two stools? For all the technique they marshall, a film can’t have the in-yer-face power of live performance. Yet without a story, there’s no “show don’t tell” of dramatic conflict, so it missses the core strength of this most realistic medium.

This is a comment more than a criticism, for I am sure that Boabab achieved what they wanted to with Flies. And a fine achievement it is too.

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