British director Chris Cooke made his feature debut with One For The Road, a refreshing comedy about alcoholism that "walks a fine line between humour and pathos". Made on a shoestring budget and with little marketing muscle to push it, the film didn't make a huge dent at that box office - although the critics were drunk with rapture.
The Road Less Travelled
One For The Road was Cooke's attempt to flesh out an idea about nihilism and alcoholism, which he briefly explored in a punchy short film called Shifting Units. It's included as part of this package with an optional director's commentary - although you won't need any pointers to see the influence of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. Cooke's first short, called Map Of The Scars, is also included. Again it explores the downside of drinking culture, this time within the confines of small-town Jersey - an island he describes as "80,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock." Despite the obvious budget constraints, it's a visually arresting film that marks a beginning of a train of thought, which would eventually lead to One For The Road.
Actor Mark Devenport also assumes megaphone duty for the last of this selection of shorts, titled, Why I Hate Parties But Pretend To Love Them. "I could just go home," an awkward-looking partygoer tells himself, while standing on a doorstep in dreadful anticipation. This is a sharply observed piece of filmmaking that takes the torture of simple socialising and successfully milks it for laughs - and includes the requisite bad, white man dancing scene.
A reel of website virals (originally used to promote the film) are just as funny, with actors Gregory Chisholm, Rupert Procter, and Mark Devenport delivering drunken monologues directly to camera. "Cars are a medium by which people move about," slurs Devenport, "cars are like veins and people are like blood..." Ah, nothing like the wisdom found in the bottom of a pint glass!
DV Stands For Double Vision
Devenport, Gregory Chisholm and Rupert Procter also offer a feature commentary, which could just as well have been recorded down the pub. It's a laidback but chaotic affair that's often amusing if not very informative - searing insights include Devenport asking, "Have you ever noticed that when you go underwater, it's blurred?"
The director's commentary offers a little more clarity, with Cooke joined by producers Kate Ogham and Helen Solomon. From the outset, Cooke warns: "This was a film were nothing funny at all happened during the shoot." Still, he employs his own special brand of laconic humour in relating how the film came into being - even after pitching it to funding execs as "a film about nothing." Do we detect a Seinfeld fan in the house?
Although the commentaries help to throw light on the creative process, there's no behind-the-scenes access at all. (Perhaps that's because the UK Film Council couldn't afford two DV cameras?) It's just as well then, that the few extras we are afforded on this DVD spill over with humour and originality.