Tom Shkolnik’s debut feature film tells the story of Ed, a stand up comedian from the North of England trying to make it on the London comedy circuit, and the friendship he shares with his flatmate Eliza, a beautiful French singer.
The two have a deep affection for each other, and at the start of the film their relationship seems easy and healthy. But when Ed meets Nathan, a young artist with whom he immediately begins a passionate affair, things become less straightforward.
There is a great sense of vitality and unpredictability in the film due to Shkolnik’s direction that is stripped down and pure, liberated from any sense of working towards a polished, more traditional look. The dialogue is also brilliantly naturalistic, coming about through improvisation by the actors rather than a script.
The story takes us around the slightly grimmer parts of London not often seen on the big screen – the top decks of night buses, a call centre, the stairwells of pubs – and we follow Ed as he negotiates it all. But while the film paints an interesting portrait of the city, it remains essentially about people’s relationships with each other, rather than with the city itself.
Many of the scenes involve little more than slow conversation or physical interaction between the characters. However, they are so sensitively acted that they are compelling and often painfully tense, so that the film as a whole actually seems to move quite swiftly. All three of the lead actors give strong performances in order to achieve this, and while never being in your face, they manage to create remarkably true-to-life characters.
One thing that really stands out is the ability of the actors, under Shkolnik’s direction, to depict the strange nuances of human interaction: the half said or repeated words, the mumblings, the awkward hand movements or facial gestures that are so often absent in films. This adds to the incredible realism of this film – a realism tenderly drawn that tiptoes from achingly sad and lonely, to funny and warm, then back again.
The Comedian is released in selected cinemas on 31st May 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Comedian here: