Monday, 9 July 2018

Three and Out (4 Stars)

This film is advertised as a dark comedy, but after watching it I have to say that there's hardly anything funny about it. It's deeply tragic, and it dragged my mood down even before the film was over. That doesn't mean it's a bad film. It's a mark of quality that a film can take such a hold of a viewer that it can completely change his mood from what it was before to a completely different state.

Paul Callow is a driver for the London Underground. He hates London, and he's struggling to pay his monthly rent of £750 for a single room on a busy road. (That was 10 years ago. He would probably have to pay more now). Paul's dream is to move away to the countryside. He's found a house online that's at the foot of a mountain on a Scottish island. It's cheaper than anything he could buy in London, but still beyond his means.

There was a time in my life when I too would have wanted a house like that. I've changed. Now I love the comforts of city life too much.

A man accidentally falls onto the tracks as Paul is approaching a station. Splat! He's dead. Paul is given grief counselling by his bosses and sent back to work. Two weeks later a man standing on the platform has a heart attack and collapses onto the tracks. Splat again!

Paul's fellow drivers tell him about a special rule for train drivers on the Underground. If anyone accidentally kills three people within a month he's considered mentally incapable of continuing with his job, so he's dismissed with a golden handshake of 10 years salary. This excites Paul, because he could use the money to buy his dream house. He needs to find a suicidal person who is willing to throw himself in front of his train. After interviewing a few unsuitable candidates he meets Tommy Cassidy, a middle-aged Irishman played by Colm Meaney. Paul offers him £1500 to spend however he wishes at the weekend, as long as he will throw himself in front of his train on Monday.

Paul accompanies Tommy to the Lake District, where he says farewell to his estranged wife and daughter. The weekend doesn't go as expected. Paul begins to like Tommy and they form a friendship. Paul also has a brief affair with Tommy's daughter Frances (Gemma Arterton), a young woman who dreams of moving to London and living an exciting life.

How can I describe the film? Whatever good things happen, there are always shadows of doom. Every time the viewer thinks there might be a happy ending something happens to remind him that the laughter will turn into tears. It's a depressing film. I don't know if I'll watch it again. It depends on whether I want to make myself feel miserable.

The film's release was mixed with scandal. The British train drivers' union ASLEF claimed it was "insulting and foolish" to make a film about persuading someone to commit suicide on a train line, and they called for a boycott of the film. They're the ones being foolish. They don't understand what cinema is about. The film doesn't encourage suicide, it's just dramatising it, in the same way that "Tragedy Girls" doesn't encourage mass murder.

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