Written by Neil Rolland
A couple argue over dinner, she slept with someone else a long time ago and he hasnâ€™t gotten over it. None of this exposition matters as itâ€™s just there to pass the time and never developed. The doorbell rings and a gang of three teenagers force their way into the family home, tying the couple up and then sitting down on the sofas to wait for the coupleâ€™s son to come home as they are seeking revenge, claiming the son is a snitch.
For about thirty minutes (or what felt for a lifetime) they sit in the living room and, every so often, a bit of torture would happen, some bad language would be spoken or a spliff would be smoked. Then the characters start moving around the house and we are left in the living room with the bound and gagged husband. New characters are introduced far too near the end and, finally, the son comes home and is taken upstairs to be given what was coming to him. Will the husband untie himself in time to save his sonâ€™s life and, by that time, will the audience care?
The film is set solely inside one suburban home which, while itÂ is a financierâ€™s dream as it means the film wonâ€™t cost a lot,Â the storyÂ needsÂ the legs to run at feature length and keep the audiences interest. It can be done; The Disappearance of Alice Creed nailed it but, unfortunately, this film does not. The characters are completely one dimensional; from the middle class couple to the gang of â€śhoodiesâ€ť, you never really care what happens to any of them as you never get to know them.
The film is built on the audience feeling closed, claustrophobic, locked inside this house with the couple never knowing what might happen next. Itâ€™s every familyâ€™s worst nightmare but, here, you never feel anything that bad will happen. There is no menace, no real threat – it is literally seventy-eight minutes of torture for the audience.
This film could easily be marketed as a British remake of Michael Hanekeâ€™s Funny Games but without any tension whatsoever. While Haneke ramped up the threat but never put anything gratuitous on screen, Williams falls flat and lashes on the red coloured syrup.
Itâ€™s a shame, there has been some hype around this film at the festival, which was also the place which showcased London to Brighton and, as a result, Williams to the world in 2006, but those days seem to be long gone and it will be interesting to see where Williams goes from here; you canâ€™t live off the reputation of one film forever.
Cherry Tree Lane was screened as part of the 64th Edinburgh International Film Festival
Last edited: 11th September 2010
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