A scene from 'The Low Down'
Courtesy Photo
** stars 96 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, April 20, 2001
Directed by Jamie Thraves

Starring Aidan Gillen, Kate Ashfield, Dean Lennox Kelly, Rupert Proctor, Tobias Menzies, Samantha Powers, Deanna Smiles


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Restless British 20-something doesn't do much of anything until the last 30 seconds of 'The Low Down'

By Rob Blackwelder

Frank (Adien Gillen) is British. He makes TV props for a living. He smokes a lot and drinks with his mates. He has that restless, what's-my-life-about feeling of late-20s malaise.

"The Low Down" is supposed to be a movie about how Frank eventually pulls himself together with the help of a good woman, an optimistic young real estate agent named Ruby (Kate Ashfield). But until he does pull himself together, which isn't until literally 30 seconds before the credits roll, the film's cast of arguably interesting people don't do a thing worth paying eight bucks to watch.

I hardly took any notes at the screening of this film because there just wasn't much to write about. Frank has trouble with the lashing-out of an artistically bored business partner pal. He half-heartedly looks for a condo until Ruby catches on that he just wants to see her and not so much the flats she shows him.

Sometimes he's deliberately late for dates with her, and I suppose this is meant as some kind of manifestation of his fear of commitment. But it's hard to say. And I didn't really care.

It's also hard to say what writer-director Jamie Thraves thinks is entertaining about all this day-to-day dullness. He's a wee bit clever in the organic way he shoots the film -- for instance, letting his camera wander around capturing facial nuances and the details of body language as Frank and Ruby flirt, sometimes even freeze-framing for emphasis.

The characters are generally likable. Frank has a disheveled, perma-hangover charm that radiates from behind his drawn face and tornado-dried hair. Realistically attractive and a little precarious, Ruby seems especially human and exactly the kind of girl that could draw a guy like Frank out of his shell -- although it's hard to avoid the thought that she could do better.

Thraves likes to use unusual circumstances as backdrops -- Frank lives next door to a crack house -- but, curiously, these set-ups add little to the movie's lackadaisical spirit.

Except for its occasional flashes of visual finesse, "The Low Down" feels like it was directed from a La-Z-Boy.


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