Taking Stock (***)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Director: Maeve Murphy
Cast: Kelly Brook, Georgia Groome, Scot Williams, Jay Brown and Junichi Kajioka
Movie House Cinemas Preview Screening, Cityside, 04/02/2016)
“I’ve always had a thing for Bonnie Parker!”
MAEVE Murphy’s latest feature Taking Stock, a low-budget British comedy starring Kelly Brook gets a limited theatrical release this weekend; whilst I don’t necessarily think it will find a huge audience at the multiplex, it’s gentle, very British sense of humour makes a welcome change from the various gross-out comedies that have been recently released. Maybe I’m saying this because I watched this film and Dirty Grandpa within quick succession, but I’d rather pay to see Taking Stock anytime rather than watch Robert De Niro show us he just doesn’t seem to care anymore.
The film marks somewhat of a departure for its writer/director, her previous two features Silent Grace and Beyond the Fire were both very different films compared to this and Murphy herself has admitted that returning to her comedic roots was something of a welcome release; she’s described Taking Stock as an old-fashioned caper movie, loosely inspired by the story of Bonnie & Clyde. When out of work actress/shop assistant Kate (Brook) is made redundant with only a weeks’ notice, she persuades her fellow co-workers to take matters into their own hands and get what is rightfully theirs.
It’s a very British piece of filmmaking that sometimes borders on the farcical; the bicycle chase through the streets of London as the group make their getaway borders on the completely ludicrous. Murphy should also be applauded for having a film set in London that doesn’t feel like a cinematic postcard for the city. Shot in and round London’s King’s Cross, it feels like a true slice of the city with Big Ben, The Shard or even The London Eye nowhere to be seen; nor are there the stereotypical British gangsters that usually pop up within these kind of movies; Kate is no Danny Ocean after all and the crew she assembles are clearly a group of amateurs.
Undeniably the central draw here is the film’s leading lady, model turned actress Kelly Brook; the director herself stated that Brook’s casting was a key aspect of the feature as she wanted viewers to really root for her character Kate, even though she’s breaking the law. By and large we do, it’s hard not to like the actress, whilst I’m sure many readers might assume I’m merely speaking here as a red-blooded male, but I do think she’s got real screen presence, similar to Marilyn Monroe and just like the Some Like it Hot star, she’s a much better actress than she gets credit for. Surprisingly considering her profile, this is Brook’s first leading role and Murphy harnesses Brook’s bubbly personality to full affect throughout the feature
She’s mostly played minor, supporting roles within other films like Piranha 3D and dare I even mention its name, Keith Lemon the Movie; within those films she was mostly used as nothing more than a sex-object for male viewers to leer at, by directors more interested in her ‘physical assets’ rather than her actual acting ability; or as BanterFlix’s very own Neil Sedgewick would put it, something for the dads! Here she gives a pretty solid performance, she’s a very physical actress with a great knack for comedy and she really holds the entire feature together.
Taking Stock flips between a light-hearted heist movie and romantic comedy, as a flirtatious relationship begins to develop between Kate and her fellow co-worker Mat, played by Scot Williams. For me the film works best when it’s in the Rom-Com territory, as there’s a genuine chemistry between the two performers. I liked the idea of Brook’s character looking for the Clyde to her Bonnie as she toys with being ‘bad’; although this also leads to some cringe worthy Taxi Driver references as Brook plays with a hairdryer in front of a mirror in her bedroom.
It’s a solid, beautifully shot feature; it’s no real surprise that it’s went down so well on the film festival circuit, winning several awards along the way. The presence of Brook in the leading role might generate more interest within the feature, but I still think it’ll struggle to find its audience at the cinema, but it isn’t without its charm, so it might still find them on the smaller screen, on DVD or VOD services.