A British comedy with a high concept and an innovative method of distribution that was shot in two days? I know, I know, you’re wondering just how much rubbish I can actually sit through nowadays after enduring all of those movies from The Asylum. Well let me tell you right now that perhaps the biggest surprise I received while watching Being Sold came from just how good it was. And by good I actually mean almost great, with only one or two mis-steps holding the film back from being something unmissable.
Christopher Dane plays John Foster, a normal guy who is a bit down in the dumps. He’s never recovered from being made redundant, the bills keep piling up and his wife (played by Eva Pope) doesn’t seem to understand just how hard it is for him. Mind you, he doesn’t help by spending excess time indoors and excess time with his mate, Chris (Lee Boardman). After a drunken evening, and a falling out with his wife, John places himself for sale on an online auction site (I’m assuming that the most well-known site was not used for legal reasons). He’s placed a ridiculously high reserve price on himself, however, and is sure that bids will never reach that amount. The growing media circus outside his home (led by ruthless career-woman Maia Long, played by Jessica Blake) beg to differ and things soon spiral far out of control, John becomes a fleeting celebrity and everyone gathered either has an opinion to share or something to wedge in the cracks that start to swiftly appear in the Foster family household.
Being Sold is okay. It’s a so-so British comedy that could easily have been a one-off TV event. It’s an extended episode of “My Family” to start off with, taking a little time to really find it’s feet. But then it starts to add little detail upon little detail and becomes something quite wonderful.
Let’s start with the cast. Christopher Dane is great in the lead role, Eva Pope is as good as ever, Lee Boardman is a little too oaf-ish but okay and Jessica Blake is superb. Then we have a supporting cast that includes Gordon “The Krypton Factor” Burns as the studio-bound anchorman, Dan Morgan as the suave and heartless roving reporter Dan Turner, Lesley Joseph as John’s mother and cameo roles for the likes of Alvin Addo-Quaye, Colin Manford, Tim Lovejoy, John Thomson (as a neighbour named Tom Johnson), Terry Christian and Roy Walker (who even gets to say “say what you see” and “it’s good but it’s not right” in a way that will make fans of 80s TV smile while not seeming too incongruous).
Aidan Magrath has created a decent, relatively tight script from director Phil Hawkins’ story idea, using the premise to take potshots at the media and the cult of celebrities famous for being famous while also weaving in some questions about the value of any human life and the things people will do to extricate themselves from a prolonged period of unemployment. In fact, considering the press-related shenanigans that have occurred here in the UK in the past week or two, it’s a shame that the movie didn’t delve even further into the horrible obsession that the press has with invasion of privacy and anyone in the public eye being a viable target for intrusive surveillance.
Hawkins directs well and the film certainly doesn’t feel like a two-day “rush job”. There are some nice crane shots here and there and it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone in to making sure everyone hits the right mark and delivers the right line as the cameras capture everything. There’s also a lot of great post-production work adding to the cohesion and polish of the piece with a lot of fun to be had simply reading the oft-viewed news scrolls accompanying many of the televised pieces.
I’m sure there are just as many people who will say that Being Sold, for what it is, just isn’t worth your time whereas I will go for the exact opposite view and say that Being Sold, for what it is, is most definitely worth seeking out and lending your support to. Slick, fun and with an ending that doesn’t cop out, I hope even a few more people check this out after reading this review (if so, do please reply to me here once you’ve seen it).
For those who are interested in viewing the movie, simply go here and prices start at £2.99 for a viewing of the film and a one-hour documentary entitled “How Did They Shoot A Feature Film In Two Days?” that is worth the price alone for aspiring film-makers.
DIRECTOR: PHIL HAWKINS
STARS: CHRISTOPHER DANE, LEE BOARDMAN, EVA POPE, JESSICA BLAKE, SARAH WHITHAM, DAN MORGAN, CHRIS HANNON, LESLEY JOSEPH, GORDON BURNS
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX