This is Not a Love Song (2002) / Thriller-Drama
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would probably be R for language, drug use and brief violence
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Kenneth Glenaan, Michael Colgan, David Bradley, John Henshaw, Keri Arnold
Director: Bille Eltringham
Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy
Public Image Ltd. provided the song that is the inspiration for the title, and which gets quite a bit of play throughout the very low budget film. This is Not a Love Song is one of those movies that I think is pretty decent, but it's almost impossible to recommend. It's quite the bitter pill, and what's worse, it has such an amateurish look that I think most people will probably shut it off before ten minutes have elapsed. To those who stick with it, it eventually does pick up steam, with superb characterizations that makes you care about their plight, even though you're essentially watching a couple of child killers on the loose.
The film starts off with Heaton waiting outside of a prison for Spike, his best buddy, who just finished a 4-month stint. Spike is a pretty dim candle, but Heaton seems somewhat lost without him, hating him for his stupidity almost as much as loving him for his companionship. Heaton's lifted a car just for the occasion, but they soon run out of gas in the middle of farm country. A farmer with a shotgun harasses Heaton for a bit, thinking he is a trespassing thief. Spike eventually gets possession of the gun, and in a bit of distress, the gun goes off, killing the farmer's young daughter in the process. Freaking out, the two men decide to flee the scene. The police are on the case but the local bigwig landowner wants to find the men on his property himself, and exact some personal justice, employing a couple dozen men to find and kill the two on the lam.
The main strength of this rather simplistically straightforward chase film comes from the very credible performances of the two leads, Glenaan and Colgan. With Eltringham's shaky camerawork and grainy looking film, it very much feels like an improvisational film, not too far removed from The Blair Witch Project in terms of overall presentation. The direction is very stylized, so much so that it alone will probably split viewer reactions, with some finding the constantly moving camera to be tedious, while others will enjoy the kinetic feel.
As I mentioned earlier, you need to like a darker tone and some gritty drama to sit through a rather dour thriller like This is Not a Love Song. If you're thinking about renting this because it's written by Simon Beaufoy, the man behind The Full Monty, don't bother. This is as far from that film as you're likely to get. Think Deliverance, and you'll be closer to the right track.
© 2003 Vince Leo