Crying With Laughter (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/04/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Enjoyably dark drama with a terrific performance from Stephen McCole, though the script could have used a bit more in the way of black humour.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Justin Molotnikov, Crying With Laughter is set in Edinburgh and stars Stephen McCole as abrasive stand-up comedian Joey Frisk, who uses his latest performance to narrate the story of when he was visited by an old school friend (Malcolm Shields as Frank). What begins as a seemingly chance encounter in a sauna soon takes an unexpectedly dark turn as Frank manipulates Joey into joining him on what he thinks is a school reunion and forces him to confront a dark secret from his past.

The Good
Stephen McCole is excellent as Joey, delivering a well-rounded performance that doesn't shy away from his less-than-sympathetic side (translation: Joey's actually a bit of a shit). Malcolm Shields is equally good as the increasingly unhinged Frank, while Jo Hartley makes a strong impression as Joey's long-suffering ex, Karen, and Micaiah Dring is good as Frank's partner Collette.

Molotnikov keeps things moving at a decent pace and the film makes strong use of some off-the-beaten-track Edinburgh locations, while Martin Radich's photography is particularly striking in the nightclub interior scenes. Molotnikov also maintains a suitably tense and unpredictable atmosphere that works well, although the finale tips a little too far into implausible territory.

The Bad
The main problem is that for a stand-up comedian, Joey isn't really all that funny - the framing device of the gig would seem to be a great opportunity for some really dark humour to comment on the story we're watching, but none of the gags really work. Similarly, you'd expect Joey to react to Frank with a series of defensive wisecracks, but that doesn't really happen either.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is an enjoyably dark Scottish drama that's worth seeing for Stephen McCole's terrific performance, while there's also enough here to mark Justin Molotnikov out as a potential writer-director to watch.

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Crying With Laughter (18)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 00:57

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