If this punky portmanteau of nine London break-up stories was any more lo-fi, it’d need sticky-taping to the screen. The production values are negligible, the fuzzy camera work often renders its recognisable London locations almost unrecognisable, and the tone veers from ‘deadly earnest’ to ‘topless Julian Barratt strumming a tiny guitar’ in the blink of an eye. And yet, debut writer-director-sticky-taper Mercedes Grower has conjured something lingering and rather lovely from all this eccentricity.
The first half – the break-up part – records the weird and unwonderful way old wounds fester and finally bubble, terminally, to the surface. A scorned Noel Fielding mopes around with a football, Kerry Fox complains that her frosty partner (Roland Gift) would rather be anywhere than with her, and jealous director Peter Wight (‘Hot Fuzz’) stumbles upon his actress girlfriend with a fellow thesp.
But by the time the second segment unfolds, showing the same couples’ meet-cutes around an instantly recognisable London, all that quirk slowly gives way to something oddly heartfelt and tender. Full of wry observations on the way Londoners connect (and disconnect), ‘Brakes’ could be the perfect final date movie.