Hello Carter (London Film Festival 2013) Review
Anthony Wilcox has spent more than a decade as an assistant director on several great British films, including 24 Hour Party People, Morvern Callar and Hot Fuzz. He makes his full-length writing and directing debut with Hello Carter, a London-centric comedy in love with the capital, portrayed as a city of mischievous scrapes and humorous coincidences. With that, it’s worth pointing out he was also an assistant director on Pearl Harbor, Sex Lives of the Potato Men and Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj. The flimsy premise of Hello Carter revolves around a string of incomprehensible decisions that tumble along to establish comedic set-pieces with no laughs. Carter (Charlie Cox) is the weary protagonist – both exhausted from romantic woes and possibly the limp script. In exchange for a woman’s phone number, Carter delivers a letter on behalf of a fictional, semi-famous actor (played by real, semi-famous actor Paul Schneider). The convoluted plot somehow sprawls into a crime chase, sidelined by lame humour and dreary moping. When Carter asks for a reason to set an alarm clock, I wondered if Wilcox simply transcribed his teenage diaries for the screenplay – if it was ever rewritten, I’d hate to read the first draft. Carter’s companion is played by Jodie Whittaker, stuck in a role of a pretty woman who indulges in his misery; when their chemistry is supposed to fizzle, it’s actually just Carter talking about himself – just talking at her, endlessly. As a lead, there’s something amateurish and annoyingly cartoonish about Carter, even the quirky way he stands, as if posing for a film poster. Whittaker and Schneider are unable to inject much energy either, with the latter a shadow of his usual high standards. Schneider has a “very real fear of antiques” for some reason; it’s never explained, but is what constitutes as a joke in Hello Carter. I think the blandness is encapsulated by the soundtrack’s use of the Jose Gonzales version of “Heartbeats”. Hello Carter is part of the London Film Festival’s “Laugh” strand. Screening information can be found here.