Written and directed by and starring Andrew Games as the eponymous King of the Teds, Dandilicious from APG Films is a stylised neo-western which explores a day in the life in of Marty, the hero – or anti-hero – of a suburban town, beset by menace and disruption of his making during 1959, with this its production launch for a festival run which includes Lift-Off Film Festival and the Wales International Film Festival.
I have been supportive of the development of this piece over the last few years – I’m even credited at the end – but the promise of its trailer some two years ago has not fully come to fruition as the mooted clash of 1950’s culture has turned into more of a crash, bang, wallop that initially plays out in a somewhat surreal, tongue in cheek style – which I’m not sure was intended – before taking itself off to veer through a ‘tell and no show’ which is a real shame because the building blocks for a successful production are scattered here amongst too large a cast whose talents are either not fully realised or, in some instances, necessary.
The opening fifteen minutes promise much, and I was strongly drawn to Games’ cocky-self-assured characterisation combining with a female sidekick, Emily (Chloe O’Gorman). But suddenly out of the blue the opening credits rolled, and the film started properly – including a switch in screen ratio – and we are thrust into a series of loosely connected vignettes with characters popping up out of nowhere and O’Gorman, whose strong performance offered so much, never to be seen again.
There’s a story in here which rightly extends beyond the advertised day but with its emphasis on telling us what a bad person Marty is – often by him – we don’t see enough depth to his character or the motivation behind his life choices. It’s disappointing because with the charm of its quirky approach, those blocks are here although the potential for a very interesting twist in the tale at the end is lost when the moment to cut and leave us lingering is lost in a throwback sequence that offers nothing we haven’t already seen except that now it’s in reverse.
It’s a long piece at over two hours but the constant jumping around never allows it to cement itself. Some aspects of the storyline are weak and overlong and deserve a good edit, if not left on the cutting room floor; other parts hint at some much-needed depth and interest but are glossed over so become an opportunity lost such as O’Gorman’s Emily, John Purcell’s intriguing police officer, or Christian Greenway’s Big Tony whose back story is somewhat rushed and confused as a result.
The period setting is pretty much faithfully adhered to although there is an upfront acknowledgement of issues within one scene, and I did notice other examples creeping in elsewhere. Costumes and styling were excellent, and accents were well maintained, but not all characters were completely in place, whether through clothing, make-up, or use of modern language and cliches. Music is an essential ingredient and, featuring original songs from Teddy Boy band, Furious, and further contributions from Dominic Halpin & The Honey B’s, Krank Williams, and Reid Anderson amongst others, is a success.
The biggest challenge if you’re going to do it all by yourself is remaining objective and where you need strong impartial support, but it’s not evident that was forthcoming from the 34 listed Executive Producers in the credits. There’s a nugget in here, it just needs polishing in a different way.
A trailer is available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1mfrh_c4EU
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 1st August 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★