A forever (well, for most of this 9-minute short, at least) bickering couple are captured in this one-shot film from writer-directer Francis Carson Lee. The unwavering camera is set up opposite the family (which includes their stoic teenage daughter glumly starring out the window) after they hurriedly board a cafe-style car on a London-bound train (note the title) for an unwanted (for him) outing with her family.
The small cast (Katy Cavanagh, Paul Barnhill, and the mostly silent Kirsty Armstrong) don’t dawdle as they settle uncomfortably into Lee’s constrictive verbal war zone. Mom’s very pregnant and dad’s got PMS as they lash out at one another for no good reason. Acid reflux, perhaps?
Lee, a character actor with appearances in a handful of British tv series over the last two decades, has recently turned to writing and directing shorts, and he’s got a deft touch for handling dialogue here, even if a few words are lost in stateside translation because of the Yorkshire dialect. This followup to his 2011 directorial debut (“The Farmer’s Wife”) showcases his cast in full throttle anxiety.
The very rotund mom barrels into her restless husband, while he shoots nasty slings and arrows back. The non-stop delivery launches one attack after another, all centering on the little mundane, nonsensical things of life. Dialogue overlaps and is often at a higher-than-reasonable decibel level. “Bradford-Halifax-London” certainly captures a lot of animus, broken only when the not-yet-born baby provides a welcome respite.
Damn, where’s the quiet car when you need it!