Best Laid Plans full movie review - British cinema at its best
First of all, let me say that there is a certain statement of fact to be made about 'Best Laid Plans' and it is this.
If you have any appreciation or respect at all for the medium of British Independent film, then the sleeve credits alone will ensure that you simply cannot pass this one by. I say "will ensure" because "should ensure" in this context would quite simply be a redundant phrase.
Credits do not of course guarantee that any film will live up to its promise, but realistically speaking, anybody who loves and understands this genre and appreciates the luminaries within it would be a fool to bet against the credibility of the acting and directional talent gathered here.
Which is why it is interesting and refreshing to hear the views of a couple of American critics on this platform, and equally why one British critic, puzzling though his observations are, is probably better ignored.
Not that I wish to dwell too much on the critique of other critiques, it's just that this film delivers so much bang for what was probably its buck, and does it on so many levels that it is difficult to imagine where such scathing detraction could possibly come from. The leveller here is a simple one, if you don't like this movie... then you just don't get it.
First and foremost, what we have here is a damned good story. Start with a big black guy carrying a washing machine and wonder where on earth this could possibly be going. What you get is an intriguing premise, with even more intriguing sub-plots woven into it, no spoilers coming here by the way... see the movie.
An often unavoidable truth with independent cinema is that in return for that elusive damned good story, it is never by any means certain (given the absence of Hollywood's millions) that you are going to get any icing on your cake.
Yet in this regard "Best Laid Plans" exacts itself as a true David to Hollywood's flabby Goliath. Take some Ken Loach style social realism, throw in some Nick Love style menace, some convincingly stylised violence, and not one but two touching love stories. Then start dealing with some deep themes,like isolation, greed, relationships, and while you're at it why not be audacious enough to examine the concept of love, with stark honesty and through a slightly skewed lens?
Why not indeed? This is a brave piece of storytelling and you really don't get away with this kind of stuff without a pretty slick script and a bunch of stellar performances from a gifted cast. Chris Green is definitely one to watch in terms of the former.
I would equally have to concede some understatement in comparing David Blair with any other director. Since he has clearly taken both script and cast and made the whole thing fly.
So there must be a downside...perhaps the shooting?
Nope, it's all dark and brooding when it needs to be and bright and evocative when it doesn't.
So you may want to consider for a minute the ruminations on the philosophical themes of lost souls, complicated relationships and life's meaning at, let's say the estimated $32,000,000 price tag at which "Tree of Life" came in.
Hell of a lot of icing there... but not much in the way of cake.
And then see this gem and be thankful... because Hollywood would simply have ruined it.