Now he’s back with ‘Treacle Jr’ and reunited with Gillen. As he did in ‘The Low Down’, Thraves sets his sights on a semi-detached character, this time the seemingly steady Tom (Tom Fisher), married in Birmingham with a kid, who checks out of his life one morning. Leaving for work as usual, he gets on a train to London and disappears. After a few nights homeless he meets Aidan (Gillen), a motormouth with learning difficulties, unpredictable but totally harmless, the kind of man you move seats on the bus to avoid. In another actor’s hands Aidan would be icky and fake but Gillen is hugely charismatic and it’s a brilliantly sympathetic portrait.
‘Treacle Jr’ is oddly likeable given its plot might have been lifted from a slipped-through-the-cracks social care horror story. Aidan lives with a ‘girlfriend’ who is abusive and blatantly using him. That volatile set-up is upended by the arrival of Tom – Thraves’s hyper-attentive camera locking in on every emotional detail.
A bleak streak is offset nicely by Aidan’s unbreakably sunny disposition – he has a store of crackpot business schemes, like renting out Treacle the cat as mice control. This is low budget and it shows, but it’s clear Thraves has still got something to say.