The creaky old story of a hapless artist forced to follow the whims of a Third World dictator gets another airing in this good-natured but laugh-deficient British comedy. Matthew Macfadyen plays Emil, a down-on-his-luck director who travels to the remote (and fictional) Caucasus nation of Karastan for a film festival only to end up in charge of the country’s biggest ever movie production: a historical epic produced by fiercely militaristic new president Abashiliev (Richard Van Weyden). Meanwhile, rebel bands are prowling the mountains, Hollywood import Xan Butler (Noah Taylor) is heading off the rails and Emil’s foxy liaison Chulpan (MyAnna Buring) may not be all she appears.
It’s a solid cast with little to do: Taylor screams on to the screen as the whacked-out star-on-the-skids then promptly vanishes for most of the movie, while love interest Buring just hangs about looking bored and shagging Macfadyen when the script calls for it. The backdrop is equally dubious. Karastan may be a made-up country, but director Ben Hopkins’s depiction of it as a bleak industrial wasteland filled with dirty, downtrodden and/or bloodthirsty ethnic types feels lazy and tasteless. You’d be better off rewatching ‘Borat’.