Being Warren B. Malone’s first feature length, Across the River (2016) seems like an amateur effort with few redeeming features. After achieving success with his first two short films, winning the Arri Best Newcomer Award and the Best of British Award, Across the River fails to meet any early expectations anyone might have had of him.
Set upon some of the more famous parts of the Thames Estuary, this nostalgic setting (which the director claims has ‘production value’) acts as the only noticeable positive that comes from this highly predictable attempt at finding emotion within unrequited love.
To be great, films must first gain a commendable idea and then an interesting direction and this motion picture holds neither. The script is filled with clichés and is delivered by lead actors Elizabeth Healey and Keir Charles in a manner that induces cringe shudders.
Miss. Healey, fresh off her brief appearance in Dr. Strange, seems to have potential but struggles to garner momentum when having to portray such an unoriginal character in Emma, the films protagonist. The same can be said for Keir Charles as the pointlessly creative, often creepy ex partner of Emma, Ryan.
Emma and Ryan meet again when the latter is seemingly doing things that the director had hoped would give his character depth. Unfortunately, they appear rushed and too vague to depict the profundity that was attempted.
She purposefully ignores him when he’s building a gimmick sandcastle in a bid for attention on the one patch of beach on the Thames. Then later coincidently drops her phone in his coffee when he’s reading a comic, whimsically looking over the water.
Emma is then dragged into Ryan’s weird, very creepy attempts at getting her to hang out with him. At first the audience is unaware that the pair have had a past romance and his advances then seem a bit stalkery.
As the film unravels we learn more about their history together as Emma conveniently cannot get on with the things she had to do that day by herself and so enlists Ryan as her chauffeur. Most of their interactions seem awkward, not in a realistic way, and all endeavours to allude to the past fail. Furthermore, the unrequited love narrative device that is drenched all over their reunion is dreadful. It’s cinema of the clichéing-the-absolute-obvious but trying to seem the arty, thoughtful kind.
Claiming the idea came to him due to his budget limitations, Warren B. Malone has struggled to execute the already flawed plans. If there is one aspect of the film that would suggest there is a slice of potential in Mr. Malone’s feature length capabilities, it’s the mise en scène of a couple of the shots. At times their layout and the cinematography can be averagely pleasing to the eye.
Having been premiered on the 4th March at Maniff Manchester Film Festival one can only imagine that the critics were happy when they realised it was only 70-odd minutes long. Expect to be disappointed if you go and see it, unless of course any of the things above seem interesting to you.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Warren B. Malone
STARS: Elizabeth Healey and Keir Charles
RUNTIME: 75 mins (approx.)
COUNTRY: United Kingdom