Set the Thames on Fire
The directorial debut for new feature filmmaker Ben Charles Edwards, Set the Thames on Fire is a dystopian film written by Al Joshua. In it, a young and seemingly depressed piano player – who lives in a dingy flat owned by a homophobic landlord – befriends the sole person that has not abandoned hope in a corrupt, futuristic London entirely flooded by the River Thames.
The idiom “set the Thames on fire” denotes doing something remarkable, and this is precisely what the friends want to achieve. Art (Michael Winder) and Sal (Max Bennett) seek to abandon the watery slums for sunny Egypt, but when money is needed for the boat, they embark on a city-wide journey to find it – meeting the forlorn souls who inhabit London on the way.
The costume design in the film is magnificent, forming an expression of who the characters are personality-wise and accurately reflected their craziness. The more corrupt, the fouler and smellier their getup became; those of kinder hearts were signified by pristine and bright colours. Sal’s yellow coat is exemplary of this and greatly contrasts the depressed Art’s affinity to black. The scenery was likewise wonderful, and the murkiness seemed to be a salute to London’s fabulous climate.
The acting of Winder and Bennett was surprisingly aloof compared to the vulgarity of Sadie Frost’s disgustingly accurate portrayal of a landlord and Gerard McDermott’s role as the perverted Impresario. Colette (Sally Phillips) and Emily (Lily Loveless) were excellent as the innocent-minded amidst a rotten elite. But, the most stunning performance was delivered by David Hoyle as the Magician: his scene with the heart metaphor is guaranteed to be the most memorable in the entire film.
The sole concern with Set the Thames on Fire is it being touted as a comedy. While there were certainly humorous elements found in the film, the story was too monotonous to be truly funny. As a purely dystopian film, it certainly works.
Set the Thames on Fire is released in selected cinemas on 16th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for Set the Thames on Fire here: