Fans of the BBC’s barbed political satire ‘The Thick of It’ (and latterly, its big-screen offspring, ‘In the Loop’) will recognise one of the key characters in this nifty, Beckettian two-hander from promising British first-time director Marek Losey, grandson of Joseph. Alex MacQueen, who plays scene-stealing Number Ten ‘spad’ Julius Nicholson in the TV comedy, offers something close to a tour de force in the role of tragic divorcee ornithologist Roy Tunt. It’s a turn so vibrant, funny and engaging that you could easily pop him in front of the camera and listen to him reel off an extended monologue like Rob Brydon in ‘Marion and Geoff’. For the first ten minutes, that’s almost what we’re treated to, until Phil Campbell’s tattooed, gun-toting drifter finds his way to the birdwatching hide in which Roy is ensconced with his binoculars and a big box of paste sandwiches.
The interaction between these two characters would be improbable in other circumstances, but the savvy, well-researched script from Tim Whitnall makes their banter not only entertaining but plausible. On the downside, it does turn into a stock mano-a-mano genre showdown in its final stages, with the obligatory twist feeling more like a formality than a necessity. But, thankfully, it’s all given a much-needed shot of credibility by the strength of the writing and the subtlety of the directing. Losey is a talent to watch, and ‘The Hide’ makes for one hell of a Hollywood calling card.