Best Laid Plans (2012)
One of the unfortunate things about the movie industry is that the majority of releases are, let's not beat around the bush here, total, or at best, average pig swill. If you read alot of film reviews, you'll find most stuff rarely gets above an average rating. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the reviewers in question have watched too many films, disregarding the enjoyment factor of the incidental movie-goer in favour of an opinion based on mostly emotionless and formulaic qualities.
If you have too much of anything, it tends to lose its appeal. What was initally great becomes the norm because you see it so often and subsequently this 'once was greatness' becomes worryingly ordinary. The second reason is that some of the best releases never even see the light of day. As many reviewers extol the film industry as an art form as there are those the denegrate it for the same reason, but it remains a fact as plain as the nose on Stephen Graham's face that justice isn't really being served. If value equalled success, then you wouldn't need reviewers, only the latest box office figures.
And if that was all that moved you to go and see a film, then you would never come across the little gem. Co- funded by the recently deceased East Midlands Media and public money, it is so independent as to be only just here at all, so not so much as getting a sniff of a cinematic release, Best Laid Plans appeared on Blu-Ray at the start of February, slipping largely unnoticed into the bargain buckets of garage forecourts country wide, no doubt.
Which is a crying shame, frankly. Stephen Graham (This Is England) rarely gives a bad performance and the same is true here. He plays the part of Danny, a small-time, mostly unlucky and unfortunate criminal, who, bizarre as it may seem, cares for Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) a man mountain, with an unspecified mental disability.
When Danny finds himself in trouble with the local crime boss, the only way he can save his skin is by entering Joseph into organised cage fighting events that are transmitted across the globe. Joseph may not be very bright, but it's fair to say he's tough as old boots. Joseph is an unwary protector from the scrapes the Danny gets himself into.
Likened to John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice And Men', the story translates well to a grim-up-north locale, all frosty breath and grey warehouse depression. The cast are all brilliantly realised, with Graham's Danny the stand out. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is completely believable as the witless but big hearted Joseph as is Maxine Peake's Isobel. Probably the most watchable, however, is Lisa (Emma Stansfield) who is a support mechanism to Danny in more ways than one and grows in front of our very eyes, a character arc so defined, it is rarely seen in productions of this size.
Altogether a great film that deserves more than the recognition that it will get. As I mentioned, it is rare enough to find a pearl like this, which makes it even more frustrating when you have to search so bloody hard to find it. Alot of reviewers will see it on their rounds, but it warrants a much larger audience. Perhaps then the performers and crew will get the rewards they so desperately deserve. A great example of what can be achieved on a shoe-string, with more determination than funding, this is great stuff.