East End Film Festival Reviews

East End Film Festival: Forgotten Man – Review

As we become more aware of the social problems that are right under our noses, we need to find more ways of spreading the word and pushing for a change, and the best way to achieve such a worthy goal is through performance pieces, either on stage or on screen.

Forgotten Man embraces the latter option to set out its message and make you think about the attitudes of the general populace towards the homeless community.

The plot of Forgotten Man revolves around Carl (Obi Abili), a struggling actor who is working with a theatre troupe formed of people who are, or have been, homeless. After the opening night of their latest play is disrupted by a fistfight between one of the actors and an audience member, Carl meets Meredith (Eleanor McLoughlin in her debut film) while still in costume and the two begin a relationship – built on a lie. As the couple continue to see one another Carl’s past begins to become more of an issue, before it all finally reaches breaking point.

The film uses some gorgeous cinematography throughout, from the opening credits sequence following a cyclist through the streets of London, to the lovingly close-up shots of Meredith and Carl as they spend the day together. Almost every shot is a visual treat that adds colour to the film. An impressive feat, as the film itself is shot in black and white.

Complementing the visuals is a soundtrack to die for. The music gives off a melancholic and soulful vibe that resonates with the tone of the film. The score undercuts some of the more emotional scenes whilst raising the higher points of the movie to new levels.

Whilst the audio and video both create a beautiful and evocative experience, the driving force behind the plot comes from protagonists Carl and Meredith. Abili and McLoughlin have a very touching chemistry, a point reinforced by Abili’s subtle facial expressions of unease as he attempts to portray himself as a wealthy socialite. It is from his difficult interactions with the upper class that a large portion of the comedy is derived which is particularly noticeable whilst attending a recital with several pretentious academics and Meredith’s aunt (played by Jerry Hall.) The comedy is awkward, but in a very delightful way, and helps relieve the tension created by some of the more serious matters broached over the course of the film.

Forgotten Man is a very moving and thought provoking film that helps shine a light on the homeless, as well as addressing some of the more unintentionally insensitive claims made by those of us who don’t have to suffer the extremes of the elements. The entire affair is lovingly produced and brilliantly portrayed, with each act broken up by a brief piece of poetry by Errol McGlashan, who is a member of Cardboard Citizens, a theatre troupe formed predominantly by people who were once homeless. There is a lot of heart put into the production, and a lot to learn from it. It may not focus on the down-and-outers who sleep rough every night, but it makes a successful effort to break down the barriers between the two groups; homeless and the rest of us and make everyone seem a little bit more human.

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