Generational warfare in the shadow of the Olympic stadium is the story of this weak, micro-budget caper comedy.
François Truffaut once commented to a bemused Alfred Hitchcock that he found ‘British’ and ‘Cinema’ incompatible terms. Jules Bishop’s Borrowed Time finds a certain truth in the one-time film polemicist and arch shit-stirrer's provocative words.
Made under the auspices of the Film London Microwave scheme and partly funded through Kickstarter, Bishop’s debut feature wants to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone, both entirely admirable aims, but doesn’t quite cut it as a work of cinema. The pungent whiff of ‘TV drama’ never goes away.
Set on an East End council estate Kev (Theo Barklem-Biggs), a dopey layabout, gets into a bit of strife with Scouse gangster Ninja Nigel (Warren Brown), a comedy stereotype rather than a fully rounded character, who likes to play with nunchucks and spout philosophical aphorisms.
What unfolds is a gobbet of working class froth that sees generational conflict ironed out as a Cockney ragamuffin and an old geezer (Phil Davis) become bosom buddies after initial displays of antagonism and distrust – complete with hammered home symbolism on the theme of time. Unfortunately, it possesses the emotional resonance of that very recent McDonald’s advert, in which an old duffer smiles gently across at a youth (and neighbour) chowing down on a burger and fries combo meal with his mates.
The unadventurous aesthetic and routine delivery cannot be attributed to a low-budget, but what feels very much like a lack of cinematic vitality and imagination. David Rom’s photography is clearly inspired by the optimistic sheen, sparkle and gloss of Stratford in the light of the supposed ‘Olympic legacy’, yet comes across as twee.
Borrowed Time reaches a bizarre nadir when recreating Dirty Harry’s classic ‘Do you feel lucky?’ speech with Davis’s pensioner brandishing an antique blunderbuss and sporting an Albert Steptoe sneer. The film is simply too cartoonish to make any impact and resorts to bogus, saccharine platitudes to get it across the finish line.
Phil Davis plays a grouchy old sod.
Not even the fine acting chops of Davis can save this.
Life is too short for this kind of Brit flick.