Continuing our Found DVDs series, today we’re looking at the 2000 crime comedy : Strong Language. No real spoilers here…
To class this film as a crime comedy is something of a paradox in itself. It would be easier to just class it as a story and leaave it at that. Nevertheless here’s the synopsis:
“While a narrator tells the story of a night of terror that changes his life forever, 16 young people chat about their lives in London. With topics ranging from the drug “ecstasy,” to AIDs and one-night stands, to the sound of BritPop, and to the urban issues of racism, punk, hooliganism, and the London Police, the film documents funny and revealing insights with an unforgettable and unexpected chain of events. “ – Bob Lee
Made on a shoe string budget of £50,000 and helmed by writer/director/producer Simon Rumley, the film starts off completely disjointed and brash, reeking of beery-90s lad culture and intoxicated-socialite it-girls. Strong Language is a commentary on 90s culture.
Filmed in documentary style the viewer is presented with talking-head and interview styles at various styles and exposures. This makes the characters feel more real and adds a lot in the way of legitimacy.
There’s an underlying dry wit running throughout and the parodying of character stereotypes is sincere with tongue firmly in cheek.
There’s a blinding commentary on the gap between the law and perceived justice here, but more notably from a production point of view this film contains wonderful lessons on ramping up tension, mixing comedy with tragedy and holding a mirror up to society. At the beginning the viewer is forced to contemplate the meaning of the content presented and the connection between characters.
The film contains an almost call and answer, or conversational tone in the editing, between the sinister backdrop of the narrator and the rest of the group.
The narrator recaps a serious-toned and traumatic story while the story is interrupted by the other characters with comical banter. The result is almost like a swarm of irritating flies around a moreish cake, that is until you realise the connection between the groups. The contrast is presented very tastefully and the interplay is handled elegantly right up until the final twist.
Some of the performances aren’t the most solid which brings down the overall quality, but good enough to get the point across. The delivery remains authentic despite this and there’s a fantasticly gritty performance by David Groves as the narrator.
Sex, race, drugs, music, nightlife, the themes covered also include ignorant and extreme views which include racism and bigotry – very much a triggering portrayal. Remember when art was challenging? Strong Language challenges the viewer in that aspect.
Strong Language contains just that, a lot of lowery words used to great effect. This film would be shut down at the production stage if it were made today. Its raw and expressive, it features cultural commentary and must be protected as a snapshot of the time.
I couldn’t even find the trailer on Youtube, but the film is alive on IMDB and available from sellers on Amazon and Ebay. Check this one out if you can get your hands on it….. at least before it is censored.
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