VOD film review: Convenience
Ian Loring | On 05, Oct 2015
Director: Keri Collins
Cast: Ray Panthaki, Adeel Akhtar, Vicky McClure
Read our interview with Adeel Akhtar here.
The ghost of Kevin Smith’s previously impressive film legacy once again emerges in new British comedy Convenience, the debut feature of Welsh director Keri Collins, who rounds up a decent cast to tell a shaggy dog story of two man-children who try to rob a store… and end up working there.
With an obviously low budget, Convenience has to succeed in its characters rather than cinematic flair and it manages to do so quite admirably. Ray Panthaki (who also produces and looks not a day older than he did when he starred in Eastenders nearly a decade ago) along with Four Lions’ Adeel Akhtar have some fantastic chemistry together and elevate their bond past the traditional straight man/idiot relationship: the two exhibit a lived-in feel to their roles, which feels like they’ve been friends for years. Akhtar, in particular, gets some wonderful moments, starting out as an absolute buffoon but growing in stature and confidence as the crazy night goes on; at the beginning, you feel like you’ll only laugh and take pity but by the end, you cheer for him.
Vicky McClure is also fantastic, nicely acerbic but with a vulnerable edge, although it would have been interesting if more was made of the fact that her character had stronger chemistry with Akhtar rather than the more conventional leading man Panthaki.
All of this would be for naught, if Convenience weren’t funny, but it is. With set-ups and quirky characters that feel like they could have been ripped from Clerks, there is an obvious air of homage to some scenes. This again takes on the feel of random observations of working life at a small store; they feel relatable but there is an air of surreality that creates satisfying comedy. A collection of British “Hey, that guy!” actors come and go, but the standout of the bunch is Anthony Head, who takes proceedings to a sadder level; his main scene with Akhtar is almost like a short film in itself, which balances the more wacky tone nicely.
Collins also exhibits skill in knowing how to pace the material. While the story doesn’t do anything too illuminating, the director knows to get through the more conventional stuff quickly – the lower key heart-to-heart sessions play out completely as you’d expect, but its never too long before you’ve got a funny line or a new character coming in to inject some energy. At about 87 minutes, Convenience never bores and is always engaging.
Attempting to make a noise in the crowded maelstrom of low-budget British comedy is something that feels like too great a challenge for all but the most determined of filmmakers. It is to Keri Collins’ enormous credit that Convenience does so. This is a genuinely funny and pacey little number, which has its derivative moments but leaves you with a smile on your face.