Making their directorial debuts friends Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe have crafted a sensational dark comedy on the smallest of budgets. The result of their dedicated frugality is an eighty-minute feature that never once shows the restrictions of its meagre £25,000 production costs.
Regardless of budgetary constraints the co-directors stick to their artistic intentions and substitute formulaic filmmaking for a more innovative approach. They weave pseudo-documentary talking heads into a non-linear narrative with seamless confidence. Additionally there’s frantic editing, lavish animation and effervescent dream sequences that all integrate to provide a deliberately unique experience.
From the moment it begins Black Pond is humorous, but remains anchored by its depressing, existential sentiments – the result of Sharpe’s perfectly balanced narrative. The story follows a suburban family accused of murdering a dinner guest. Having separated after the incident the dysfunctional relatives reluctantly reunite in an ongoing battle against the local media and the public who continue to torment their lives.
The character-driven narrative hosts a quintessentially British network of eccentrics, cynics and sarcastics who each manifest the “nothing a cup of tea can’t solve” mentality. Even though they are working from such a strong script, the cast of British talent – including Chris Langham, Simon Amstell and Will Sharpe himself – encapsulate their roles with incredible deftness.
Upon release Black Pond garnered a lot of critical acclaim, but due to a small theatrical release it went criminally unseen. This micro-budget masterpiece, though it bares the raw hallmarks of a debut feature, has all the makings of a cult classic.
Seen as part of the 48th Chicago International Film Festival