The Escape - This Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Dominic Savage
Starring Gemma Arterton, Dominic Cooper
When she set out to make The Escape, Gemma Arterton said she wanted to make something that felt more like a French movie. She should be aware that not all French movies are good.
When director Dominic Savage approached her with the idea of making this movie he confided that he’d “not made a thing yet that I’m really proud of.” Well, he may be proud of The Escape – but he really shouldn’t be.
Here is a small scale British indie piece of borderline experimental cinema (the dialogue was all improvised) that features two fine actors, delivering strong performances, but trapped by frighteningly one-dimensional characters, which at its best offers Arterton – fine when she’s not speaking – and at its worst feels like an off day early rehearsal at a bad local amdram troupe.
Arterton is the bored housewife who should be pleased with a weekend barbecue, but isn’t. Cooper is the husband, not a bad man, but oblivious to his wife’s needs, ignorantly all but raping her every time the mood takes him.
One day she’s had enough – she can’t do that, she has kids!! – and hot foots it to Paris. But even before she hits the Gare Du Nord, her life is enhanced. The way Arterton’s heads literally rises as the rail tracks of Kent are supplanted by the rail tracks of the French countryside borders on comical. Although no stripey-topped men ride by on bicycles with garlic round their necks and baguettes under their arms, Arterton does almost instantly attract the attention of that other French cinematic cliché, the enigmatic but extremely good looking wandering loner photographer who simply cannot resist clicking away at her beauty. Boy, does this town beat Essex – hands down. (And pretty soon, pants down as well.)
For a movie that aspires to originality and a sense of honesty, it is awash with cliché and feels remarkably false. Patronising to both its characters and, perhaps more offensively, to its audience as well. By the time it reaches its ending, you simply won’t care about what happens to any of these people.
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