out of Five
Running time: 105
Poorly directed, badly written British drama with dreadful performances, excruciatingly dull dialogue and a pretentious plot that's borderline incoherent. One of the worst films of the year.
What's it all about?
Directed by Mark Elliott, Powder is based on the novel by Kevin Sampson and stars Liam Boyle as Keva McCluskey, the lead singer with up-and-coming rock band The Grams, who's haunted by memories of his abusive childhood. At the same time, Keva is drawn into an unwanted rivalry with Helmet Horrocks (Al Weaver), the obsessive lead singer with rival band the Transbad Saints, who has stolen one of Keva's songs and turned it into a number one hit.
Unable to either enjoy the band's burgeoning success or to pull himself together for recording sessions, Keva instead decides to take the entire band and entourage – including best friend Wheezer (Alfie Allen) - to Ibiza, hoping to unburden himself to a childhood friend (Ralf Little) who's become a sort of mystic Rastafarian. At the same time, Keva finds himself pursued by manic journalist Johnny Winegums (Stephen Martin Walters), who seems to have an agenda of his own.
Like this year's Got to Run, Powder is so across-the-board dreadful that it's difficult to know where to begin. The main problem is the script, which is mind-numbingly pretentious at best and borderline incoherent at worst – it's never remotely clear what's so special about Ralf Little's character, for example.
It also doesn't help that Liam Boyle plays his supposedly tormented character with the same blankly-staring, expressionless face throughout; it's a stunningly wooden performance that makes it impossible to care about the character, guitar-burning stepfather or no guitar-burning stepfather. The supporting cast isn’t much better either – the characters are unlikeable, while their acting styles are so abrasive that it seems as if they belong in different films – e.g. Weaver, Walters and Little are pure caricature, while the other actors seem to be either playing it straight (Boyle) or striving for comedy (Allen).
On top of everything else, the film is poorly directed and badly edited, with scenes constantly seeming disjointed; even the flashbacks are badly handled, since they seem to come out of nowhere. The worst example of this is the random death of the film's only likeable character: for one thing it's almost completely unexplained and for another, it has no noticeable effect (tears at the funeral aside) on any of the other characters.
Powder is more or less unwatchable, thanks to a dreadful script, poor performances, unlikeable characters and shockingly bad direction and editing. One to avoid.