Shooting Fish (12)

Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Starring Kate Beckinsdale, Dan Futterman, Stuart Townsend

The recent revival in the fortunes of the British film industry has led to the rare occurance of several of the more interesting fims around being home grown- think The Full Monty, Mrs Brown, Wilde and now this very enjoyable tale of two lovable con men and the scrapes they get into.
It stars American Dan Futterman as the smooth talking Dylan, and Stuart Townsend as the nerdish but rather sweeter Jez. The film opens well, with the pair conning businesses into buying a talking computer- not so way out really. However, after a close shave, temporary typist and medical student Charlie(Kate Beckinsdale) gets involved with the lads when they tell her the money swindled is all going to orphans (does she believe them? I wouldn't). For the first half of the film we follow their escapades as they deal with the theft of their computer, run a loft insulation scam and then get their revenge on the thieves in a very funny sequence. Its light and amusing stuff. All three leads are appealing, and the script and story zips along nicely. However, the film then runs out of ideas a bit as the final section is contrived and clunky. Charlie acquires a slimy fiance, Jez and Dylan are jailed and face losing all their hard earned savings in an unlikely bank move, Charlie tries a feeble double con on the lads, but soon teams up with them to get back at the nasty fiance and even sleazier lawyer. Frankly it gets a bit silly and sentimental with the introduction of a handicapped brother and love at first sight for Dylan. This is a shame, but even with a weak ending it is still a fun film. Plenty of laughs and genuinely likable characters.
There is no real questioning of the morality of Jez and Dylan's cons as they are shown to be honourable really- they don't pull the loft con on a lady who is really poor, and there is even an attempt to justify the whole scheme by showing Jez and Dylan to be the orphans. This doesn't bear too much thinking about, but then this isn't a deep film, it is entertainment. Lots of top British character actors get a role here, Phyllis Logan, Annette Crosbie, Jane Lapotaire, Nikolas Grace. There is also an excellent soundtrack featuring some of the best Britpop-type bands around.
Perfect Saturday night stuff, and an encouraging sign of the variety and vigour of the British film industry. 7/10.

October 1997

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