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We are the Freaks


Stars: Jamie Blackley, Mike Bailey, Sean Teale, Michael Smiley, Amber Anderson, Adam Gillen, Rosamund Hanson, Danielle Bux, Amanda Lawrence, Dominic Coleman, Joy McBrinn, Hera Hilmar, Stephen Boxer

Director: Justin Edgar

There is something splendidly and, I believe, deliberately self-conscious in writer-director Justin Edgar’s engaging rites of passage comedy, notably at the start when Jamie Blackley turns to the audience and states, ”I hate archive footage” and adds “I hate films where people talk to the camera", an appropriate reference to Edgar’s use of archive footage to establish the period – Thatcher’s Britain in 1990.

Indeed, part of the pleasure of a black comedy that is essentially lightweight and following in the footsteps of such television series as The Inbetweeners as well as, states Edgar, the film is about “a group of young men coming of age” and has elements derived from similar US films such as American Graffiti, Breaking Away and Superbad. Which seems to be the case, although ‘We are the Freaks while certainly entertaining, is indeed lightweight in comparison to its exemplars.

That said, there is much to enjoy, thanks to the three spot-on central performances and a light-hearted approach to sex, drugs and loud music.

Aspirant writer Blackley, frantic to escape his boring bank job, desperately waits to hear that he has the grant that will allow him to go to university.

Wimpy Dominic Coleman, who receives life guidance from deranged hardman Michael Smiley, has an unhealthy sexual fixation on Margaret Thatcher (Edgar succeeds in making this unexpectedly palatable, unlike the sour tones achieved by writer Abi Morgan and director Phyllida Lloyd in their overrated The Iron Lady).

“Textbook underachiever” Sean Teale has the advantage of coming from a broken home, but with enough money to live without working, enabling him to hold everyone and everything in his disregard.

The catalytic event that changes the trio forever is splendidly staged and performed when Blackley, Coleman and Teale end up at a posh party and virginal Coleman receives his first sexual experience on the lawn from girlfriend Rosamund Hanson, a traumatic event that lands him in Outpatients with a uniquely male injury…

Good taste is happily largely absent and although at times We are the Freaks resembles a series of scenes rather than a bound-together narrative, there is much to savour, notably the engaging performances, apt direction and (particularly welcome when so many films stretch out well beyond two hours) a short running time.

Alan Frank

UK 2013. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
72 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 21 Apr 2014