I have been in love with the medium of film for almost eight years now, and I can say with absolute certainty that there is no better feeling than being blind sided by a truly amazing film. To go in with your expectations at a very grounded level, or even no expectations at all, and then being completely knocked off your feet is sensational; having it on your mind, gushing about it your friends, putting it in your best of the year list…All of this excitement after you didn’t think it would be that big. Well that’s where I’m at right now, because James Alexandrou has knocked it out of the park with The Show.
Chloe Collins (Celine Abrahams) is a huge soap star making her stage debut in a production of Salome. She’s looking to break free from her current reality and prove what she’s worth, but it’s easier said than done when you have to deal with an eccentric cast, a personal tragedy and an overbearing reputation.
I’m truly unsure where to begin with this, because there are so many brilliant things going on in this far too short flick that all work flawlessly together, that it’s hard to single them out. The Show, to put it simply, is a vivid and exceedingly atmospheric piece with a deeply human core; every part of it feels so unbelievably real, but one look at the director’s career can possibly tell you why. James Alexandrou was actually the original Martin Fowler in Eastenders, before leaving the show in 2007 and spending many years on stage. Once you know that, it’s impossible not to wonder if there’s a semi-autobiographical nature to this film. Watching these actors rehearse, spend time on nights out, slowly develop weird and complex relationships, use and betray each other, it all feels so natural, and feels like it’s just been scooped out of real life, which only furthers my query as to whether or not it’s based on experience. It takes a deep look into the trials and tribulations of juggling a problematic personal life and even worse production, where everything seems to go wrong.
Imagery is quite possibly Alexandrou’s strength; there are so many unforgettable shots in this film, frequently intertwined with appropriately heavy music or astonishing performances in this perfectly structured masterpiece. The film hits hard in a lot of places, as the story’s emotional impact clashes with the intense technical aspects that culminate in moments of perfect chaos and sheer heartbreak. Celine Abrahams envisioning herself dancing barefoot on a rooftop is one of the most striking things I’ve seen all year, and speaking of Abrahams, please give her every award going for what is a truly stunning performance. She draws you into the character, to the point where you feel like you’re sitting inside her mind, and her emotions fluctuate, so do yours. When she’s happy, you fly, and when’s sad, you plummet. It’s about as perfect as a performance can get. The entire cast is fantastic, especially Sean Buchanan as temperamental Liam, but Abrahams is the the true stand out.
The only genuine complaint that I have against this film is that it’s too short; it’s already phenomenal, to be able to be enveloped by it would’ve been amazing, and perhaps stretch out certain relationships within the film that weren’t necessarily underutilised, but definitely could’ve been tapped into more. Having said that, Alexandrou has done a superb job on the script, forming complex and invigorating characters that keep up the energy and velocity of the drama, which is perfectly structured. Alexandrou hits all the right beats, takes advantage of all the right moments and is never predictable, often ignoring the obvious path for events and takes them in a far more interesting direction.
The Show is an astonishing film that deserves a lot of love, and a lot of attention. A perfect lead performance, an exhilarating screenplay, and a masterful technical accomplishment, crafted by a director who was born to make films. It’s the best film I’ve seen all year, so make sure you check it out at East End Film Festival.
Premieres tonight at 6.30pm!