Director: Shane Meadows (interview)
Starring: Paddy Considine, Scor-zay-zee, Olivia Colman, Richard Graham, The Arctic Monkeys
Running time: 71 mins
Shane Meadows's movies are always brimming full of originality and verve and Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee is arguably his most daring effort so far. Shot in just five days with a mixture of real and fictional characters, this improvised comedy has plenty to praise. Meadows brings us characters that other filmmakers wouldn't dare to touch and functions as the perfect antidote to contrived Hollywood cinema. Yet at the same time, his latest effort falls well short of matching the inspired moments of storytelling genius and hilarity that quicky elevated the likes of Somers Town to classic status.
This tale, which flows remarkably well for a piece of improv, follows Midlands roadie Le Donk (Considine) as he tries to nab a support act slot at an Arctic Monkeys concert for his portly and shy rapping musical protégé Scor-zay-zee (played by, erm, Scor-zay-zee). He also has to contend with his burgeoning ego and imminent fatherhood, although his bun-carrying ex Olivia (Peep Show's Olivia Coleman) has a new man in her life - much to the Donk's consternation.
Concurrently, in an audacious piece of metatextuality, there's a movie being made within the mockumentary as we observe a film crew following the every move of the pair. Director Shane Meadows regularly pops up in front of the camera, often to address the concerns of the amusingly self-aware Donk, and comes across very authentically natural for a non-actor.
The endearing central duo complement each other well, with Scor-zay-zee's humility slotting in well alongside Le Donk's bravado. Despite the latter's Alan Partridge-style mental disintegration in a hotel room, we can't help but constantly root for them to worm their way onto the stage of the Arcticle Monkeys (as Donk refers to them as). Considine has a huge workload on his shoulders and acquits himself well, although you get the feeling that he's often scrabbling around for killer quips that rarely arrive. One notable exception arrives with his hilarious probing of Olivia about her current sex life and the possible effects on their unborn child.
It might sound harsh to brand Meadows's latest as a slight disappointment, given its production circumstances, but it's only fair to judge the movie on the final product - regardless of whether it took 5 or 500 days to make. In spite of raising empathy, it all feels very inconsequential and disposable. Nonetheless, such experimental cinema is both admirable and worth watching. You never know, Scor-zay-zee's lyrical musings might soon be assaulting the charts. Anyone who namechecks the likes of Richard Bacon, Harold Shipman and Worzel Gummidge in the same song must be onto something.
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