The Drummond Will is a black comedy torn from the pages of the Coen Brothers. While this film may not boast the tightness of the Coen Brother’s 1984 début, Blood Simple, director Alan Butterworth is off to a good start.
Upon returning to their home town for their father’s funeral, Marcus (Mark Oosterveen) and Danny (Phillip James) run into one problem after another, most of which end with the death of one of the townspeople. Without a will, the brother’s get only their father’s house, however, people in the village know something the brother’s don’t—there’s over £200,000 in cash stashed in the brother’s newly acquired home.
Things really go bad when the Drummond brothers notice a broken window in their home and decide to get the local constable (Jonathan Hansler) involved—who is enjoyable, but is a caricature of John Cleese to a fault. Danny’s discovery of Malcolm the Bastard (Morrison Thomas) in their father’s cupboard, with a death grip on a bag of cash, makes matters worse.
In the age of Blu-ray and 3D, shooting in black and white is riskier than ever, but it’s an obvious choice here and well executed. The hard shadows set the dreary tone while the bright whites offer a glimmer of hope, a glimmer that quickly subsides as the story progresses.
On the surface, Marcus and Danny are like many movie odd-couples. Marcus is the responsible uptight one with a job back in the city while Danny is a care-free optimist who skirts in to his dad’s funeral—after he’s already in the ground—and sounds relieved when he adds that he was concerned he might miss the funeral. A closer look reveals Marcus as a character of moral, while Danny, not exactly lacking in morals, has a more open and passive view of right and wrong. While Marcus is suffering a nervous breakdown, Danny sees each death as one less person who can go to the police.
Marcus and Danny bond from their experience, and perhaps even find a middle ground, but it’s difficult to say they grow from it. Once it’s all over, I suspect Marcus will go back to his day job and Danny will go on with whatever it is that Danny does.
Many of the actors have few credits to their name, which makes their performances all the more impressive. It’s easy to believe that Marcus and Danny have been rival siblings since their childhood and that their father had taken such a hands-off approach that they each went their own way without giving a second thought to their father or their hometown. Even their welcoming uncle Rufus (Keith Parry) acts as if he’s not seen the lads in years when he invites them to a Sunday afternoon of fishing after their father’s funeral.
The story moves along well into the second act at a great pace but loses steam toward the middle, however, soon comes another death—my favorite of the bunch—which gets the story, as well as Marcus and Danny, moving again. As with all good black comedies there’s a plot twist at the end, and be sure to stick around after the credits for a character revelation you won’t want to miss.
Despite a few tale-tell moments revealing the neophyte cast and crew, The Drummond Will is a strong début, and one that will lead to great projects from the cast and crew.
The Drummond Will is out on DVD and blu-ray 8th August 2010.
Director: Alan Butterworth
Writer: Sam Forster, Alan Butterworth
Cast: Mark Oosterveen, Phillip James, Jonathan Hansler
Runtime: 81 minutes