An independent UK film made on a low budget on HD-DV in a limited number of locations, Richard Hawkins’s Everything, shows just what can be achieved with a couple of good actors and a good script.
Every day, during daylight hours, a man (Ray Winstone) visits a prostitute in a run-down Soho hotel. Initially hesitant, he says he only wants to talk, but as the daily visits continue, Naomi (Jan Graveson) becomes increasingly suspicious of his behaviour and the personal questions he asks. Is he a journalist? Is he just shy? Or does he have some other sinister motive? She is determined however to get matters onto the more comfortable and familiar footing of regular prostitute/client roles, but something about the man disarms her and the hard-edged manner she tries to adopt – perhaps the fact that the man, who she finds out is called Richard, doesn’t seem to be entirely sure what it is he is looking for himself.
Everything presents a simple situation, one whose success as a film is predicated on the mystery of the visits being sufficiently intriguing and gradually revealing enough to keep the viewer interested in the outcome. Much also depends on the ability of the two actors in the central roles to maintain a certain tension and frisson of conflicting interests during these meeting.
On the first point, there is little problem. Hawkins’s script is delicately layered, cleverly mirroring the sexual tension in the encounters by gradually revealing elements in a teasing and flirtatious manner, taking you just so far and then keeping you at a distance. It also knows when to move out of the enclosed confines of Naomi’s room and introduce elements and characters – such as Richard’s wife - that seem to have peripheral significance to the film’s mystery.
As for the second point – the ability of the actors – well, there is certainly no issue there. Winstone in what is for him a very low-key performance, shows – as he did in Sexy Beast that there can be a vulnerability behind the usual hard-man demeanour we expect from him – but the air of menace remains and Winstone’s Richard consequently presents an intriguing puzzle of a character. Graveson (who has done stints on the TV shows Eastenders and A Touch of Frost) also displays similar contradictions in her character - the necessity, for her profession and her health, to adopt a professional manner and essential rules on the relationship between prostitutes and their clients, while at the same time she demonstrates a nature that is much more caring and understanding. This conflict in her makeup inevitably leads to complications when it runs up against Richard’s issues, but it also causes problems when she befriends and assists, against her better judgement, a young East European woman who has just entered the profession and is being abused.
Set in a very adult situation, the script and language can be a bit strong in places, but only where it needs to be, to broach the essential severity of the themes and the dangerous situation the characters find themselves in. Otherwise, there is much that is simply conveyed though the faces, expressions, movements and, evidently, the bodies of the characters, each of them struggling to find a footing to deal with the situation they find themselves in. The viewer is likewise involved, struggling to find a plausible and assuring reason for Richard’s visits to Naomi, but deep down being made to feel uncomfortable at the gradual unravelling of the suspenseful situation.
Everything is released in the UK by Soda Pictures. The DVD is in PAL format and encoded for Region 2.
Filmed in HD-DV, Everything is transferred exceptionally well here on DVD, anamorphically at a 1.77:1 aspect ratio, with not a mark in evidence or any significant digital artefacts. I daresay you might find some minor issues if you look for them, but why bother? This does exactly what it needs to do, taking a film with a reasonably strong look and feel and giving it as good a transfer as the source material allows. That quality is quite good, and the film doesn’t have the cold clinical look you would expect from DV photography, so this may be taken from a 35mm print of the film.
The audio is also generally fine, with no serious technical shortcomings whatsoever. Occasionally however, the impenetrability of the heavy accents and particularly Winstone’s low mumbled delivery can make some lines difficult to follow. The fact that there are no subtitles on this release is unfortunate then, and not just for viewers with hearing difficulties.
A few relevant extra features are included, but nothing informative in the way of interviews or commentaries. There is a good Trailer (1:42), an Amended Scene (2:14) which on a cursory examination I didn’t see as being different from what is in the film, a brief and clearly unnecessary Deleted Scene (0:28), as well as an Alternative Ending (7:53), which replays the original ending, but has an additional 2 minutes where Winstone behaves much as you would normally expect his character to. A Soda Trailer Reel includes trailers for Head-On, This Is Not A Love Song and Niagara Motel.
It’s always refreshing to see a well-made British film that isn’t trying to recycle the latest trend, doesn’t have to stir up controversy to get publicity and doesn’t need to spend a fortune for big names and flashy productions. Everything remembers the first basic rule that tends to get overlooked in many of those other less successful films – it has a good script and a worthwhile story to tell. When you add a couple of good actors to this, you have the basis for a good film and Everything is a good film that is certainly worth your time. It’s only a small, little-known independent film, so you can’t expect much in the way of special features, but Soda Pictures give it a first-rate transfer to DVD.