Barely more than an hour long, Col Spector’s debut feature is a no-frills, London-set British film that’s defiantly everyday in its interests, but too slight to make enough of an impression, despite some perceptive scripting and the odd good performance. David (Stephen Mangan) is a portrait photographer (think a slimmer, younger Tim Spall in ‘Secrets and Lies’ rather than David LaChapelle) who’s uneasy in his three-year relationship with Lisa (Susan Lynch), who is ready for real commitment. No wonder David’s uneasy – he’s smitten with Nina (Lara Belmont), a younger woman who, disastrously for him, is no longer interested once he plucks up the courage to give old Lisa the heave-ho, leaving him free, single and… depressed. Oh, the grass is always greener on the other side of Parliament Hill.
It’s a perennial theme for drama good and bad, and Spector pushes all the right buttons by comparing David’s situation with his happily married friend, Michael (Sean Dingwall), and carefree single pal, Matt (Chris Coghill). What we get is a portrait of a man, none too unusual, who doesn’t know what makes him happy. Problematically, humans talk such banal guff when ending relationships – ‘I don’t want to hurt you’, ‘It’s me, not you’ – that it’s a challenge for any director to make such conversations look real, and while Spector nails the language, it’s impossible to take Mangan seriously at these moments: it looks like he might burst out laughing. Thankfully, Spector, who’s a fluid, straightforward director, resists the crutch of music until the final scene when he goes and blows it all by playing something stupid like… a Gary Barlow song.