out of Five
Running time: 96
Well made, occasionally insightful and initially enjoyable drama that is ruined by a horrifically violent, tabloid-baiting final rape scene.
What's it all about?
Artistic, cello-playing Robert Carmichael (Daniel Spencer) is one of several bored Newhaven teenagers. When his friend's cousin Larry (Danny Dyer) is released from prison, Robert falls in with a bad crowd and the ensuing peer pressure eventually leads to a horrific, Clockwork Orange-inspired finale at the house of a local celebrity chef (Michael Howe) and his wife (Miranda Wilson).
Following in a long tradition of tabloid-baiting "controversial" films such as Funny Games, Irreversible and Romance, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael caused something of a stir when it premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year. Unfortunately, though most of the film is actually pretty good, it's ruined by an appalling, horrific and indefensible final rape scene that screams nothing more than Woooo! Look how much I love A Clockwork Orange!
It's impossible to believe that the scene wasn't included just so that the film could garner outraged tabloid inches. Indeed, director Thomas Clay did little to dispel that idea when confronted by angry Edinburgh audiences at post-screening Q and As.
The odd thing is that Clay already has a powerful rape scene in the middle of the film - a group of lads take a drunk girl into the back room of their flat but the camera stays outside and we occasionally hear the girl's screams whilst a DJ spins records. This scene is horrific but not explicit and it renders the final scene superfluous.
It has its merits, but its artistic qualities are seriously compromised by the horrific finale. If you see it, you are strongly advised to walk out before the boys enter the house at the end.