A film that involves a series of brutal deaths including a guy in a wheelchair by way of a laugh is not exactly taking a middle road. I had to admire writer Mark Doherty’s desire to broaden the appeal of his opus to fuck-all of an audience, except those who want their comedies to be funny. The set up is fussy but efficient, establishing a pair of barely working writers in a crumbling flat who then host an increasing body count present due to circumstances beyond their control. The dialogue is sharp, the reliable Dylan Moran delivers his usual frustrated misanthrope (don’t you dare change) with panache, and events are kept just this side of ridiculous to avoid losing a hysterical audience. The gimmick is that the flat mates are struggling to produce a script despite a lack of any decent ideas for a murder mystery. Trouble is, the good ideas have been taken, and the chaff that is left results in plots that are wildly implausible. For example, one accident is possible. Two is unlikely and indicates foul play. Three or four, and suddenly our protagonists find they are in the middle of a wildly implausible Film With – well, you get the idea. Thankfully, Ian Fitzgibbon’s bold first feature film never attempts to be clever to the point of cute with the meta joke. It wins us over the old-fashioned way – by being really fucking funny.
Dylan Moran plays Pierce, and in a stretch is an alcoholic asshole who has nearly one good script in progress. Mark (who you may have guessed is the screenwriter) is losing his girlfriend, and will be evicted shortly by his cock of a landlord. Mark looks after his paraplegic brother whilst forlornly contemplating suicide. There is no way out for these miserable failures except an unlikely success for their script. And so their fortunes change for the worse. A Film With Me In It uses the structure of a broad comedy to explore the absurd narratives required for fiction, particularly when truly new or clever ideas are difficult to come by. Pierce describes his current abortive project as Fargo and Dog Day Afternoon with a bit of The Conversation, which gives you an idea of just how far along he is. When a terrible accident occurs in their apartment, followed by more of them, they are unable to write their way out of that. After all, who would believe them? Searching for a solution only leads to further disaster, until there is simply no way for them to ever be seen alive again.
The twists and details are almost Byzantine in their knotting, which makes this rewatchable like crazy, but by far the greatest asset are the actors who sell this admittedly far-fetched bullshit like it was purloined fact. The humor is wonderfully dry and the lines fly by thick and fast – Pierce fretting that geeks would obsess about an inaccuracy in the story or the halting explanation provided to a passing police officer demand repeat viewings alone. This is a cinematically literate film, and it avoids being too pushy with references, all while having Neil Jordan play a director in the film (bonus points). This was fucking well done, and if you are appalled at the subject matter, then you may lovingly tongue my asshole.
A Film With Me In It screened with the Wisconsin Film Festival, and will be released in the United States in… oh right, this shit is never released here because nobody goes to see good films. Enjoy your Sandra Bullock films, you maggots.