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By Mark Bell | August 13, 2012

Gary Shand (Glen Maney) is a struggling stand-up comedian. Short on cash, late on rent and continually screwed over by his manager and club promoter, Gary’s life is further complicated by his ex-wife’s decision to move away with their two children, whom Gary barely sees and can’t relate to anymore anyway. Stuck in a loop of pub-hopping, increasingly horrible stand-up gigs and thoughts of suicide, Gary’s life is going nowhere fast. Each day becomes just another in a series of opportunities to finally hit rock bottom… and we, the audience, are along to watch the decline.

On the technical side of things, filmmaker and star Glen Maney’s The Limelight is a bit of mess. While the composition and picture is solid enough, the sound recording is often sub-par and hard to hear. That, coupled with a musical score that is sometimes right on and other times out-of-place or goofy, can make for a challenging aural experience. On top of that, while aspects of the film work with a strange rhythm to the edit, that editing style doesn’t always sustain itself and scenes start to feel disconnected and/or repetitive.

So as to not focus entirely on the negative, however, the best part of the film occurs about an hour into the film when a new, abrasive bartender arrives at the pub Gary frequents most often. The bartender’s violently aggressive behavior is a welcome change-up to the pace of the rest of the film, and considering how sad sack Gary has become, the scene winds up saying everything that the audience may be thinking about the character at that point. Because there’s only so much anyone can take, and the bartender gives full vent to that exasperation.

See, the major problem with the film, beyond the previously mentioned tech issues, is that, for the majority of the film, it doesn’t go anywhere. Gary is a loser, who talks and talks and talks about changing his life, or committing suicide, or this that or the other thing, but little actually changes. He’s usually back at the bar drinking, or generally sad sacking his way through life. With no real character arc, there’s little reason to root for or even stay interested in Gary’s plight. Instead it’s just a sad decline, over and over again. It gets exhausting to watch. By the time a twist comes in the final 20 minutes, I was only still engaged in order to see where it all ended, though I could care less exactly how that happened.

Basically, The Limelight is a lot of hit or miss, with more miss than hit. While it has funny moments in it, it is less a dark comedy and more an overwhelmingly depressing portrait of a failed life that eventually you can’t help but laugh at somewhat. Simply, the misery in the film is so palpable, it’s hard not to be put off by it.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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  1. Max Goldberg says:

    I’m usually down with stand up comedy movies on principle. Maybe one of them will get it right one of these days. Stand up comedy is practically impossible to ‘act’. That said, haven’t watched this one yet.

  2. D.Buckler says:

    I sat in a friends and watched his download of this and it’s funny because we said at the time,can you imagine an American watching this? The answer we both came to was a resounding NO.

    The humour is too dark and the throw away lines too descreet for a reviewer in a culture where basically you’re told when to laugh ie.the much overhyped Hangover,American Pie-The Re-Union.

    I have to agree that technically the film leaves a lot to be desired but with an $80k budget which is what? less that 50K, it’s actually far better than I’d expected.

    The film score, for me was perfect.

    The performances of Glen Maney and Ricky Grover,for differing reasons made the film a must see for me and I thought they were both great in it.

    The bar scene with Craig Campbell was another delight and I have to say the pre-sex bathroom scene where ‘Gary Shand’ is about to have a sexual liason with the lead actress is one of the funniest stand alone scenes I’ve seen in years.I was holding my ribs and so were the others in the room.

    I personally think that this is a special little film but agree it’s like Marmite.You either love it or you hate it.

    Seeing such a poor and one sided review that told of a film that bore NO resemblance to the dark comedy that I watched and loved,I thought I’d just tell Film Threat readers to throw the review out the window and watch it for yourself.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but then Everyone has a different level of intellect and I think this should be considered when reading the review.

    Looking on the internet,this film is split with great and lousy reviews.I can see why.For me though,it’s a great little film that deserves and audience.

    The funniest film I’ve seen in years.

    • Mark Bell says:

      Maybe it’s that difference in intellect level you mention, and my lack of culture being a told-when-and-how-to-react American, but I still don’t understand why folks can’t just have differing opinions without tossing insults at those they disagree with. You liked it, I didn’t. My reasons for disliking it, and the moments when I did enjoy it, are not cultural, they are spelled out above. If the things that bothered me worked for you, great. It doesn’t make either one of us smarter, or more culturally astute, than the other.

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