9 October 2009

Movie Review: 31 North 62 East


31 North 62 East
2009, 99mins, NR
Director: Tristan Loraine
Writer (s): Tristan Loraine, Leofwine Loraine
Cast includes: John Rhys-Davies, Marina Sirtis, Heather Peace, Craig Fairbrass, George Calil
Release Date: 18th September 2009 (UK)

I love being able to support small scale cinema far removed from the conglomerate world of Hollywood, films that succeed on the ground of artistic endeavour and which have been made on a budget that wouldn’t cover a days worth of FX on most multiplex fodder. Yet whilst supporting independent film in itself is admirable it’s important that the products being pushed are decent, and decent isn’t an adjective I’d throw at new British conspiracy thriller “31 North 62 East”. Directed by newcomer Tristan Loraine, the movie is a tiresome and ugly affair, betrayed by its miniscule budget but more importantly by some awful writing and performances. The central conceit isn’t without thought or potential but the execution is severely lacking in panache or skill.

In order to maintain a massive arms deal and guarantee his re-election British Prime Minister John Hammond (John Rhys-Davies) is forced to give away the position of a group of SAS officers believed to have committed a high profile killing in Afghanistan. The group are ambushed and slaughtered but there is a survivor and after months of torture she is brought safely back to Britain. However on arrival she mysteriously dies leaving her grieving sister (Heather Peace) in a state of rage when she finds out that the deviant PM is responsible for her sibling’s gruelling last days. As a result she cooks up a revenge plot, one which will show the people of Britain how corrupt their politicians can be when the chips are down.

The acting is atrocious, Marina Sirtis gives a decent performance in the part of a pawn like MP, but everybody else provides terrible thespian support. Heather Peace is laughably one note and wooden as the female lead and action hero of the piece whilst John Rhys-Davies overacts to a level unusual for even him. The characters are in fairness badly written and poorly fleshed out but even that doesn’t excuse the phenomenally amateurish standard of performing that defecates over the viewer. It’s impossible to endure this sort of feature without any sort of believable or sympathetic characters, yet Loraine has failed to inject them into his iffy cocktail.

The central story has potential even if it boils down to a predictable message and political observation, yet the cack-handed dialogue ensures it’s impossible to take the venture seriously. Under a more refined pen and a director with a more impressive aesthetic touch I see no reason why “31 North 62 East” couldn’t have been a solid splash of conspiracy theatrics, yet the writing is so unfathomably lunk-headed that everything is ultimately put to waste. Loraine shows little expertise at giving a story realistic flow or engaging developments, relying on lowest common denominator twists and a lazy ending to round out his depressingly flat debut.

From a technical stand-point the budget prevents the movie from digging up explosive action and the suffocating direction makes scenes of possible tension evaporate before the viewer’s eyes. There is one sequence in “31 North 62 East” likely to create the desired sense of discomfort and pain, whilst a kidnap scene late in the movie is carried out with efficient filmmaking and a competent understanding of excitement. However these are rare exceptions and to make matters worse the movies political agenda is far less clever than the writers seem to believe. There is a smugness in the concluding chapter of “31 North 62 East” that makes one imagine the creators believe their message to be both unique and revolutionary when in fact it’s recycled and repetitious.

“31 North 62 East” is a dubious addition to the lower echelons of the British film industry and marks Loraine out as a name to be wary of in the future. It fails as a barbed commentary on politics and as an SAS fuelled thriller, leaving it in the realms of pointless and unsatisfactory. Even fans of lower budget offerings would do well to avoid this feature and ensure that its questionable filmmakers still owe the public an artistic debt before their career prospects grow any further.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


Dominic La Sarge said...

I think this film reviewer has to be politically motivated. I saw the film and gave it 7 out of 10. For UK 250,000 it was a great effort. Well done.

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