So, even the British are making movies like this; ensemble dramedies about twenty-something friends who take forever to get their lives together after college? Then again, it makes sense. The types of problems Frank (Aiden Gillen) faces aren’t limited to this side of the Atlantic by any stretch of the imagination. He’s got a decent job working with Mike (Dean Lennox Kelly) at the prop-making shop owned by his friend John (Tobias Menzies). Now it’s time to start living like an adult. That means buying a nicer flat and maybe settling down with the right woman, for starters. Enter Ruby (Kate Ashfield), an attractive realtor whom Frank enlists to help him find a new place.
Frank and Ruby hit it off right away; their attraction obvious and immediate, and soon, their house hunting expeditions take on a not-strictly-for-business air. Yet, something holds him back and they never quite seem to get on the same page when it comes to their relationship.
Frank’s reservations build when things start deteriorating at work, where Mike’s tardiness, obstinence and lousy attitude have all gotten worse. John, meanwhile, is under some pressure of his own. He’s been in a relationship for six years and suddenly his sex life has dried up like a stream in the middle of a summer drought.
All of these issues come to a head when Mike mouths off to Frank and John about their willingness sell-out and kiss up to their clients. Frank explodes; Mike’s comments the catalyst that allows his whole world to come crashing down about him…giving him a clean slate to enter adulthood for real.
Director Jamie Thraves portrays these problematic years in an honest, refreshingly unglamorous fashion. If anything, the film’s cool, almost documentary feel borders on the depressing. However, either Thraves, DP Igor Jadue-Lillo or both have an inordinate fascination with random close-ups of eyes, noses, and chins, along with an excessive fondness for random focus racks to various and assorted background objects. These silly, intermittent hand-held sequences soon grow as tiresome as the senseless flashbacks and other temporal shenanigans Thraves employs. Such gimmicks certainly add nothing to the film and only distract from what’s important: these characters’ struggles to come to grips with adulthood. This talented cast is certainly capable of portraying that struggle without all the extraneous clutter.
The twenties are definitely an intense and confusing time of life: one is no longer a teenager, yet neither is one quite taken seriously as an adult. Still, there is a limit to how much new insight can be gleaned from people who can still get away with using “just because” as an excuse to do dumb things. Since this is a British film, at least that puts a slightly different perspective on these issues. Even so, “The Low Down” doesn’t give us the lowdown on anything we don’t already know.