Car chases, explosions, cities being destroyed, torrid love scenes – this film hasn’t got any of them, and a bloody good job that is too.
Filmed in only five days, as a part of the Warp Studios/Meadows ‘Five Day Feature’ initiative, and nudged in for just under £50,000, this is like This is Spinal Tap (1984) going to the north of England, on a serious budget.
The story is fairly straightforward. Roadie ‘Le Donk’ (Paddy Considine), a tired, jaded and borderline mental health casualty has lost most of his stability in life. Forced into moving back into the house he had previously rented out following a split from his heavily pregnant girlfriend (Olivia Coleman), and faced with the prospect of having her new live-in lover Richard (Richard Graham) bringing up his baby, he agrees to be followed around by a documentary crew as he goes about his business doing roadie work for the ‘Arcticle Monkeys’, as he calls them.
Inspired by the idea of being an agent, he takes one of the people renting his house with him to the gig at Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground. This man is none other than a portly, white-as-white rapper called Scor-zay-zee (Dean Palinczuk). Le Donk reckons that he could get Scor-zay-zee a gig, and perhaps muscle in a bit and get some of the limelight. This, as they say, is their story.
The film itself blurs the lines between fact and fiction to really enchanting effect. Meadows himself stars as the documentary maker carrying the camera, but you know that there also must be someone behind him filming, or there could be no movie. It is, in effect a ‘meta-rockumentary’ and, if that’s not a word, it is now. We all know Paddy Considine by now, not least from his startling work with his good friend Meadows (Dead Man’s Shoes) or from other, less demanding roles (Hot Fuzz (2007)), but you can easily forget it’s him when he makes such a good job of being a foul-mouthed, long-haired, shit-talking roadie.
Seeing him bigging up Scor-zay-zee to the Arctic Monkeys and their manager is pretty squirm-inducing, but there’s the mark of a man doing his job and doing it well. Scor-zay-zee himself (a rapper in real life) is a very useful foil for Le Donk. A quiet, unassuming character whose only ambition is “to make me mam proud”, he could easily be seen as a fool, a stooge. It’s the way he carries himself that allows him to rise above the poison and jealousy of Le Donk. The way he shrugs off Le Donk’s abuse, ‘you’re like a big fucking womble, Uncle Bulgaria’, tells you who’s really in charge of Scor-zay-zee.
From fairly simplistic beginnings, a story does emerge, one of arriving at the show, setting up, complications with the impending birth of Le Donk’s baby, but nothing essentially very earth-shaking. The story is only a vehicle for Considine’s improvisation (which he handles very well) and the interplay between the two eponymous characters. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that the film charts Le Donk’s progress into getting back a shred of his soul and personality, and that Scor-zay-zee is one shit-hot rapper. Seriously.