Directed by: Jones
Starring: Nora Tschirner, Rob Knighton, Kellie Shirley
Please don’t let the pretentious title to this festival favourite from 2013 put you off. Everyone’s Going To Die may sound like an irritatingly flashy and instantly forgettable gangland thriller, but in reality it’s a surprisingly frank and funny study of lost souls searching for redemption…although, that said, there is a gangster involved.
Melanie (Nora Tschirner) is at a crossroads in her life. A German ex-pat living in a seaside town on the Kentish coast, she’s engaged to be married and yet finds herself alone in the world. That is, until she meets Ray (Rob Knighton), a recent divorcee whose reasons for being in town seem shady. Over the course of a single day that sees the pair share a series of bizarre episodes together, Melanie and Ray find themselves each forced to confront the sadness in their separate lives.
Written and directed with assured authority by a creative collective that call themselves Jones, this is a mature and moving masterpiece that has echoes of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Melanie and Ray’s initial attraction to each other is not based on looks or character at all, instead the foundations of their friendship are formed from their own individual need to escape their troubles.
A large portion of the brief running time is spent observing the two characters as they interact with one another. At times this leads to intimate reflections that are permeated with painful poignancy. A standout scene, which sees Melanie momentarily let her guard down and unburden her heart to Ray while they sit in a car at the roadside, slays you with its deep-seated sadness.
Naturally, much of the film’s strength derives from the commanding central performances. Together on screen, Tschirner and Knighton conjure a captivating chemistry that’s beautifully complimented by Jones’ delicately distanced cinematography. What’s truly fascinating is how each performer builds their character’s persona. Both Melanie and Ray are attempting to hide their own anxieties, and this is particularly pertinent to the performances; Tschirner captures Melanie with a wry and waspish charm that helps disguise her insecurities, while Knighton cleverly camouflages Ray’s repressed emotions with a tough demeanour and phlegmatic personality.
There’s a lot of real and raw emotion to be found here. But what sets Everyone’s Going To Die apart from so many of its peers is its lightness of touch. Jones’ script is superbly structured with a series of deviously dry comical occurrences that are delivered in a deliciously deadpanned way. The sight of Ray being forced to talk to a cat that his estranged sister-in-law believes to be the reincarnated spirit of his dead brother is undoubtedly a highlight. Although perhaps the funniest moment is what happens next…like the film as a whole, it’s unique, unexpected, and utterly brilliant.