Every constituent element outside Stephen Graham’s at-least-acceptable performance has been distilled to a base level of incompetence.
Danny (Stephen Graham), a diminutive wheeler-dealer, lives with Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a physically huge and mentally handicapped man, to whom he is both best friend and carer.
But Danny owes a debt to crime mogul Curtis (David O’Hara) that he can’t pay off. He’s given one option: persuade Joseph to fight in Curtis’ new cage-fighting ring. But as Joseph begins a relationship with the more nurturing Isabel (Maxine Peake), also mentally handicapped, he begins to see through
Danny’s manipulation. Putting a severely mentally handicapped character in a cage-fighting scenario seems prima facie, like a bad idea. But it’s not the only error of judgement David Blair and screenwriter Chris Green have made in Best Laid Plans.
Every constituent element outside Stephen Graham’s at-least-acceptable performance has been distilled to a base level of incompetence, from the utilitarian cinematography to the no-budget set design to the less-than- paper-thin characters. Worst of all are the genuinely appalling fight scenes. Each follows the same preposterous formula: Joseph cowers and whimpers before Danny yells at him to fight, whereupon he finds the strength and skill to pummel all who stand before him. Apparently aiming to elicit excitement, these sequences achieve something much closer to revulsion.
The representation of disabled characters in film does not necessarily require sombreness of intent: the Farrelly brothers famously display their inclusive attitude by creating disabled characters just as snarky, violent and anarchically funny as their able-bodied counterparts.
The problem with Green’s script – and Blair’s direction – is not a lack of sobriety, but a far more essential and absolute dearth of skill. The result is so gobsmackingly inappropriate, the Farrellys might have made a better comedy out of it.
Can never have too many crime-tinged independent Stephen Graham vehicles. Right?
First year film students would be embarrassed to produce such infantile crud.
Too stupid to be abominable, but only just.