Wednesday, 22 August 2007

EIFF: Saxon - Review by Robert Duffin

Director: Greg Loftin
Screenwriter: Greg Loftin
Running Time: 100 mins
EIFF Screenings:
Wednesday 22nd 21:45 Filmhouse
Friday 24th 21:45 Filmhouse

Cinema has never recovered from the death of the Western. Like an old grandfather chewing tobacco on the porch, its loss was mourned by many and some just don’t want to give up the ghost. Clint Eastwood revised the classic text with Unforgiven, Kevin Costner gave us a classic oater with Open Range and later this year the remake of 3:10 to Yuma sees Russell Crowe and Christian Bale continue the cinematic CPR. Yet at EIFF, Greg Loftin debut feature Saxon presents the Leone conventions with a postmodern twist resulting in, well, something completely different.

Sean Harris plays Fast Eddie, our monotone anti-hero sporting an eye patch, returning to his London council estate after a spell in prison to investigate the disappearance of television quiz champion. The estate isn’t safe though, the “bailiffs” monitor every corner, fag lighter lady is shilling stolen goods, and Mr Oogleworth is buying guns. The tar black comedy narrative is reminiscent of Malcolm Pryce’s Aberystwyth novels which transport the noir of Phillip Marlow to the seaside town in Wales. Loftin’s blending of the idiosyncrasies of a fringe environment with the sweeping conventions of a Hollywood genre packs this offbeat thriller with humour. Jackie (Michelle Connelly) knows the council have murdered her husband because he didn’t get planning permission for the new porch, the local arms dealer has no guns but is sure aboriginal spears will service gangland needs and only in the Saxon estate could a mother accidently try to sell her body to her own son by mistake.

The star is Harris, whose Oedipal Clint Fast Eddie has Eastwood’s cold stare and David Beckham’s nasal whine. He’s a completely ineffectual hero, he’s not a tough guy but he withstand the worst beatings which is lucky given the knives, arrows and staples plunged into his body. Even once the story runs out of steam in the final act, Harris keeps you invested. Loftin too has made an excellent calling card. Evoking the Leone style (wide angles and tight close ups) without slipping to far into parody, his action scenes are well paced and thrilling. Saxon is a confident debut and one of the funniest films screening this year. Could the Western be on its way back? That’ll be the day.


Anonymous said...

It was a great piece of refreshing work - both dark, violent and at times very funny. I hope it gets a good cinema release in the UK in 2008!

Robert Duffin said...

I really hope it gets a good cinema release, I think people will really get a kick out of it! We don't see projects like this very often.