Who are these people? Who are the characters played by Gillian Anderson and Danny Dyer in the new British drama, Straightheads? Here's a psychological thriller with two central characters it never allows us to get to know. We never understand them or their actions. We don't even know what they see in each other. X-Files beauty Anderson and chav-for-hire Dyer are surely one of the oddest couples in screen history.
Alice (Gillian Anderson) is a fortyish businesswoman who's not short of cash. Adam (Danny Dyer) is a working class lad in his twenties who works for a security company. They meet when he installs CCTV cameras in her country home. Alice is attracted to Adam and she invites him to a party that evening at a work colleague's house. They end up sneaking away from the party and having sex.
Driving home, they pass a slow-moving 4x4 and Adam, who's drunk, leans out the window and shouts abuse. A few miles down the road, Alice's car hits a stag. While they're moving it off the road, the 4x4 pulls up and three men get out. They give Adam a vicious beating and rape Alice.
Naturally neither of them finds it easy to come to terms with what's happened. Making things worse is the likelihood that the attackers have gotten away with it. Alice doesn't want to report the rape and the police aren't interested in just another GBH case (which is a bit harsh on the coppers). Then, by chance (in a very unconvincing scene), Alice runs into one of the men.
Straightheads isn't as bad as you might have heard it is. The reviews have been brutal but it's a workmanlike thriller, quite well acted, with some effective dramatic moments as well as the occasional snigger-inducing excess. The basic revenge story is involving enough. The villains ironically are fairly interesting. If nothing else, this is a better vigilante movie than the pointless, meandering Outlaw. At least it's short and it knows what it's trying to be.
But the lack of characterisation and our subsequent lack of sympathy for this couple all but kills Straightheads. The last act, in which the couple embark on their revenge, is especially hurt by the film's failure to develop them. There are reversals and changes of heart that depend on us knowing these people an awful lot better than we do.
We're kept on the outside, watching the proceedings dispassionately - even the rapes and assaults - and asking questions the script can't answer. Like, why are Alice and Adam apparently living together after the attack? They've had a one night stand and then been attacked - how would that lead to a relationship? Like, what does Alice see in Adam other than a bit of rough? Like, what are we supposed to make of Adam's behaviour towards the end? Or Alice's for that matter? Like, would just a couple of scenes of character development near the start have made all the difference?
The title by the way is gangster slang for non-criminals. The word's never used in the movie.
Last updated: 29/04/2018 11:02:07