Developed for the screen from his stage play, Geoff Thompson shows himself to be a most talented wordsmith with The Pyramid Texts, a film that turns out to be little more than a 90-minute monologue by a boxer (James Cosmo) trying to communicate to his son via a video camera. When I say “little more than” I don’t mean that in a dismissive way. It doesn’t need any more. All it needs is the restrained direction from Ludwig and Paul Shammasian, the engrossing script, and a central performance from James Cosmo that I cannot praise highly enough. He deserves all of the praise this year, and any awards he may be eligible for. It’s probably the greatest performance that you’ll see this year, and even ranks up there as possibly the greatest performance from his own career (which is saying something).
I don’t have to detail any more of the plot, because there’s nothing more. It really is as simple, and also as deep and moving, as one man thinking back over his life while he talks to a son that he’s been unable to see face to face.
The format is, obviously, a bit of a daring one. If the lead actor doesn’t hold your attention, or remain believable throughout, then you may as well just slip a sedative in the refreshments of the viewers about to sit down and give over their time. Thankfully, Cosmo is every inch the retired boxer with a rich history to pick life lessons from. That face shows everything, be it laughter lines, anger, or tears.
Although some flashbacks are shown throughout, they are used sparingly, and only fleeting moments. We are being shown snatches of memories, not the actual events that are being discussed by Cosmo. Yet it all gets pared away as we head to the final moments, and the last 15-20 minutes of the film consist of little more than the camera being kept straight on Cosmo’s face. He fills the screen, not just physically, but with an outpouring of emotions that will break all but the toughest viewer.
There’s nothing more to say. I know that this will wear out its welcome with some people far too quickly. I just hope that the majority of viewers love it as much as it deserves to be loved. It may not be the most cinematic film that you see this year, but it’s an acting masterclass.
The Pyramid Texts was screened at EIFF 2015.
DIRECTOR: LUDWIG SHAMMASIAN, PAUL SHAMMASIAN
WRITER: GEOFF THOMPSON
STARS: JAMES COSMO, ETHAN COSMO
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX