12th October 2020 8.30pm at BFI Player
When Ben (Matt Fifer) meets Sam (Sheldon D Brown), a one-night stand quickly evolves into an intimate relationship. However, with the former scarred by childhood trauma and the latter still not having come out to his father and colleagues, the couple soon hits rocky waters and must, with the support of one another, find a way to overcome their struggles before they are torn apart.
The feature debut from co-directors Fifer (who also wrote the screenplay) and Kieran Mulcare, Cicada is a touching, honest and cynically funny examination of two troubled characters going through the motions of life. Inspired by his real-life experiences, Fifer’s authentic performance gives the film a palpable sense of truth as it confronts topics of abuse, homophobia and otherness. But, despite the heart and passion the filmmakers have put into their project, the script lacks the laser focus required to make the most out of their story.
Rather than anchoring the script on a central point to build and expand on, Fifer jumps from scene to scene in rapid succession without letting any of the ideas sink in or develop. Even as the picture approaches the last few minutes where events should be reaching a conclusion, the audience still finds themselves moving between inconsequential moments that retrace the same steps without bringing anything new to the table that merits revisiting them. By the time the denouement rolls around, there simply has not been enough established for the film to stick the landing.
This is a shame because Fifer and Brown are nothing less than outstanding in their performances and production. With the low-budget filmmaking affording their onscreen presence an extra layer of authenticity, watching this pair feels like we’re watching two friends fall in love. Both actors hit every emotional beat, delivering poignant dialogue that demonstrates that Fifer does have talent as a writer.
Had the script played more to its strengths by revolving more closely around its central relationship, the emotional impact of the finale would have hit much harder than it does. As amazing as Fifer and Brown are together onscreen, even their chemistry isn’t wholesome enough to make up for a jumbled script.
Cicada does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Cicada here: