Hands up, I am not a big fan of improv. As a friend said to me, “Just write a fucking script”, which I agree. I do see a charm within improv with off the cuff expressionism that when executed, it can be a raw delight. The 95 Dogma Manifesto, which more or less were improvised pieces of work churned out some absurdist brilliant pieces in the shape of Festen and The Idiots, marking Thomas Vinterberg and Lars Von Trier as cinematic talents. Brakes, ‘written’, directed and starring virtual unknown Mercedes Grower is billed as an anti-rom com, an almost counter Brit rom-com featuring some of Britain’s established comedy elite in Julia Davies, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding mixed amongst some lesser known talent and Roland Gift, singer of the Fine Young Cannibals.
Like Love Actually, Brakes offers a vignette of stories of characters who are at the end of the relationship, unable to properly address the indifference they feel to a partner in an attempt to break off a relationship. In its approach at being anti-rom com it’s also anti-narrative by juxtaposing these character introductions with the first act of how these characters primarily encountered one another, which are presented as a more charming affair.
And that’s about it. An after and before comic strip of tedious characters and mis-match of talent that is as embarrassing as it is cringeworthy, especially from Roland Gift who seems to be challenging Tommy Wiseau for the mantle of most terrible actor to ever appear on screen. Brakes is full of so many bad ingredients, it deserves its own UN weapons inspection to be seen fit for humanity. It can paint itself as anti-rom com, it’s anti film and to add insult to injury, it’s being supported by the BFI, which there should be an enquiry as to why this got any form of arts funding. It’s a grotesque exercise by someone who has rounded up their celebrity mates and got backing because so and having no filmmaking talent to show. A smug twee exercise so far its own arse that marks this not just the worst film I’ve seen this year but one of the worst films I’ve seen of all time.