VOD film review: Borrowed Time
James R | On 23, Sep 2013
Director: Jules Bishop
Cast: Theo Barklem-Biggs, Phil Davis, Warren Brown, Juliet Oldfield
Watch online: Sky Cinema / NOW / iTUnes
It’s not every day you see a old man wielding an 18th Century blunderbuss ordering a boy to make him a cup of Tetley. It’s a novel touch to what would otherwise be a by-the-books British drama about a teen trying to come good with the help of an unlikely mentor. That novelty stays fresh throughout.
It helps, of course, that his unlikely mentor is played by Phil Davis. The spiky actor goes full hedgehog as Phillip, a drunk loner with a house full of stuffed animals that makes Steptoe look like Mr. Darcy. “Make my tea, punk,” he scowls at Kevin (Barklem-Biggs), wielding his musket. That’s when you realise that Jules Bishop’s Borrowed Time is funny.
Also written by the first-time director, the script throws in laughs at the most unexpected places. As Kevin plans to break into the pensioner’s pad, his mate offers him an impromptu weapon: a coat hanger. “Why have you got a hanger?” another asks. “Came with the jumper, innit.”
Theo Barklem-Biggs has a face made for such awkward moments of hilarity. Sweaty and jumpy, in the words of one character, he “looks a bit like Gollum”, a description that highlights his wide-eyed nervous tension. He proves a strong contrast to Davis’ demented old loon, who picks up dead squirrels and waves them at the neighbours. But together, their chemistry manages to bring a note of sentiment to the odd couple relationship, fleshing out what could have been a contrived gimmick.
The only slip is local drug dealer “ninja Nigel”. Warren Brown clearly enjoys himself as the resident psycho, complete with nunchucks, but his amusing antics risk making the comedy too broad. It’s to Bishop’s credit, then, that his confident direction balances that serious drama – and violent threat – with the giggles, creating a low-budget Brit flick that’s more Looking for Eric than Harry Brown. (If Jules can already do that on his first film, he could well go far.) The result is something surprisingly pleasant – a Brit drama that, thanks largely to Phil Davis, doesn’t feel overly familiar. It may be too sweet for some, but an old man wielding a blunderbuss helps the tea go down.
Borrowed Time is available to watch online on NOW as part of a monthly subscription of £8.99. (From 29th May 2014, this renews at £9.99 per month.)
Watch or rent Borrowed Time online on pay-per-view VOD