Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Joe's Palace

Stephen Poliakoff's latest tv film was shown last night. It’s one of two ‘companion’ pieces, the other (which stars Maggie Smith) will show next week.

Thomas Sutcliffe, of The Independent, wrote:
[it had] “a looping, elliptical style of storytelling that can make it very difficult to say, once the final credits start rolling, exactly what the whole thing was about.”

Never was a truer word said without quite being said. I don’t think Mr Sutcliffe intended to disparage Poliakoff’s piece; I think he meant to say it was full of meaning that wasn’t quite graspable. Unfortunately what his words actually say on the surface is exactly what I felt about the film – and so did the other three people watching it with me.

There was so much wrong with it: its sluggish pace, the dreadfully-acted main character Joe (if it was dreadful acting; maybe this boy can’t act) who seemed to be an empty shell; the overdone sex scenes which added nothing to the film – couldn’t we have been left to guess, along with Joe, what was going on upstairs?

Then there was the Michael Gambon character, which Gambon did his utmost to invest with some intelligence. Unfortunately, Poliakoff gave him so little to work on, and such a poor motivation for his long-standing reticence to do anything useful with his life, that in the end you thought: Get on with it, you silly old duffer. He finally did, and not before time.

People kept coming into The House and saying there were strange vibes – all except Joe, who didn’t seem to know a vibe from a vibraphone. He just sat listening to his CDs with his headphones on (including a very silly pair he picked from a host of silly gifts) or writing his notes, and people kept interrupting him. His response was to sound as dull as possible so that hopefully they’d go away and leave him alone. Eventually they pretty much did.

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