The Low Down | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Writer-director Jamie Thraves makes his feature debut with this story of a prop-painting bohemian in north London (Aidan Gillen) who wants to move away from his crack-dealing neighbors and falls in love with the realtor he meets (Kate Ashfield). It doesn't work all the time: I couldn't always follow the action, the ending is too abrupt, and what appears to be the strong influence of John Cassavetes (the episode in which the hero's macho pride is wounded by a lout in a pub, triggering the unraveling of various relationships, seems to come straight out of Too Late Blues) sometimes works against the kind of rough and intuitive movie Thraves is aiming for. But I was mesmerized by what seems like a new and exciting way of filming people: Thraves mixes objective and subjective impressions, and his eclectic style of framing sometimes cuts characters off at odd angles. His main actors (including Dean Lennox Kelly and Tobias Menzies) are both natural and unpredictable--even when they show some awareness of the camera's presence. As with Cassavetes, you might say that the film is riddled with "errors," but these mistakes are indistinguishable from the uncommon rewards, which made me grateful for them. Landmark's Century Centre.

--Jonathan Rosenbaum

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