Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Directed by: Jamie Adams
Starring: Alice Lowe, Dolly Wells, Tom Cullen
Stepping towards the cinematic platform once more, to present us with the final ballad in his Modern Romance Trilogy, British indie filmmaker Jamie Adams give us plenty of poetry, but fails to offer up anything satisfyingly poetic in his rhythmically unbalanced relationship dramedy Black Mountain Poets.
Aided by the simple set-up, the early verses of this slovenly sonnet are where the writer/director shows strength. Following a botched robbery attempt, neurotic sibling con artists Claire and Lisa (Dolly Wells & Alice Lowe) are holed up in the Welsh countryside, on the run from Johnny Law. Having managed to illicitly acquire an invitation to attend a local literary retreat, however, this wayward twosome soon find themselves assuming the roles of internationally renowned poets The Wilding Sisters, in order to secure some temporary refuge.
Comprised of bohemian caricatures and artistic stereotypes, there’s a cruel cynicism in Adams’ depiction of the creative types Claire and Lisa come into contact with: an assortment of extravagantly expressive scribes persistently struck down by their own social ineptitude. But within the eminently quotable dialogue, apparently improvised from the director’s outline entirely by the cast, is a delectably droll dynamism that’s effortlessly sustained by Wells and Lowe. The wry exchanges between Claire and Lisa are fused with an amusing energy that allows the chuckles to consistently flow – the pair soon finding themselves at odds with one another, having both fallen for the softly smouldering charms of Tom Cullen’s aspiring poet Richard.Once the assembly head off into the wilderness on a journey of self-discovery though, inspiration is quickly displaced by half-cocked direction and trite theatricality. The earthy digital photography and low-fi aesthetic may recall the early works of Ben Wheatley, but there’s none of that visionary intelligence. Adams’ breezy approach is amateurish, the disjointed disposition of each scene giving the suggestion of a sketch series being picked up off the cutting room floor and loosely strung together by a ham-fisted editor.
A juxtaposed jumble of stilted sequences played to trendy independent beats, which show characters bewitched by the rural beauty of the Black Mountains, is supplemented with sepia-hued bucolic close-ups, obviously in the hope that it’ll instil some semblance of significance. Yet the soul and spirituality on show here is visibly superficial, and the emerging lack of philosophic stimulation makes for a duff dénouement. Like the extemporised poetry of Claire and Lisa, Adams’ film is a tenuous vacuum, regularly devoid of rhyme and reason.