The Comedian

Directed by Tom Shkolnik
Starring Edward Hogg, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Elisa Lasowski
In UK Cinemas May 31st, 2013

by Joanna Orland

The Comedian is a film about Ed.  Ed spends his days working at a call centre, his nights trying to catch his big break on the London comedy circuit.  He is lost, confused and feels empty.  He lives with Elisa, a beautiful French singer with whom he has a very deep and loving bond.  He is dating Nathan, a young artist, passionate and beautiful.  Ed lives in London, a city that provides not only a backdrop to the film, but narrative in itself.

The fact that Ed is a comedian is irrelevant to this film.  It is about his state of mind, affairs of the heart, and life in London.  In spite of its lack of significance to the plot itself, perhaps it is very significant in the building of his character.  This film is true to life in many ways including the accurate portrayal of life in London and even in the plot point of a gay man and his best female friend having a more loving bond than intended.  While not being the most obviously common of occurrences, I have recently met two couples comprising of a “gay” man and a straight woman who have married out of love.  The fact that Ed is a comedian, rings true in the sense that most comedians, in my experience, are very complex, serious, and often dark characters when they are not performing.  Comedy is the most common defense mechanism known to man.  Comedy masks pain.  Ed is suffering dearly on the inside.

Dirctor Tom Shkolnik’s debut feature film has a maturity about it that makes it hard to believe that it’s only his first.  His method of story-telling immerses the viewer into Ed’s world with an intimacy so well crafted that at times it feels as though we are watching a documentary.  The camera work is very much fly-on-the-wall style with shaky movements and flowing perspectives.  The scenes each linger far too long for comfort, but in a realistic and insightful fashion.  The acting is so superb, these characters are fascinating, believable, realistic and very much relatable.  Life in London is just so well captured, it could have been mine, or any of my friends’ lives.  The club scene in Cargo – I swear I’ve had that night out!  Prevalent themes including creative failure, isolation and loneliness are all unfortunately prominent in London.  It’s inevitable in such a passionate, creative, youthful, busy and thriving city and brilliantly and creatively portrayed in this film.

The fact that each character uses the actors’ real first name is a very clever subtle touch to help the realism seep through their performances.  Each performance so naturalistic and detailed, The Comedian is a breath of fresh air compared to over-acted Hollywood dramas that are over-saturating our screens.  This film is a raw and truthful portrait.  It may not please common film-goers, but those looking for something more will be drawn in to admire what director Shkolnik has achieved.

The only flaw that this film possesses is its abrupt ending.  At 82 minutes, which includes quite a few minutes of credits, the film ends swiftly and feels as though it needs a few more scenes to make it more like a feature film rather than a television special.  Having said that, the abrupt ending left us discussing what it could have meant, what the future could hold for Ed, and just how wonderfully poetic that final scene actually was.

The Comedian is a poetic yet raw, truthful portrait of all of our lives in London.

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