Peccadillo Pictures’s Boys on Film have been nothing but superb collection after superb collection. Their use of theming for this recent collection works as well as any other of their DVDs. There’s enough of a direction for there to be a definite focus, but preventing it from becoming restrictive and niche. For this collection we see Peccadillo turn its focus to our sceptred isles for inspiration, but strutting on the darker side of life. Cruel Britannia also stars some well known names, such as Misfits‘s Iwan Rheon, Iain de Caestecker from BBC3 fantasy horror The Fades, and Eddie Marsan from acclaimed indie Brit flick Tyrannosaur.
The only negative to the collection is that any favourites and ‘weaker’ films are purely down to personal taste rather than quality. Indeed, the calibre of the compendium is assured by the presence of several Iris Festival nominees, including 2008’s winner of ‘Best UK Short’.
If we had to pick any outstanding outliers, we would suggest I Don’t Care, a bleak fairytale about the near reclusive Luka (Rheon) who has to care for his bed-ridden mother in the forgotten Welsh seaside town of Porthpunet. One day, on a day of freedom from his duties, he bumps into wild and free-spirited Dan. But can Luka break away from the suffocating shackles of responsibility? Rheon gives a striking and beguiling performance as the long suffering Luka, whilst Harry Wootliff’s direction also teases a strange and grey whimsy amongst the dilapidated coastal resort. The entire short is a deep and haunting musing on the ties that bind us, yearning, and restless wanderlust. Certainly our favourite of the bunch.
Elsewhere, Spring, one of our highlights from 2011’s Iris Prize Festival, is an intense and gripping portrait of control, sex, and S&M. Both leads deliver electrifying performances, whilst director Hong Khaou manages to create an atmosphere by mixing both seduction and danger, resulting in something that is nail-biting and impossible to draw yourself away from: a slick, sexy, and disturbing miniature thriller.
Man and Boy is a frightening portrait of manipulation, suspicion, and homophobia. When a young boy pesters a newbie on the estate (Marsan) for a cigarette, he invites him into his home. However, after an accident, the boy cries ‘abuse’ to his father. However, how close to a deeper truth behind the lies is he? Marsan delivers a twitchy and nervous performance that reeks of enigma and guilt, leaving the audience, through David Leon and Marcus McSweeny’s fractured timeline, reading deeper between the lines than is comfortable, as well as being drawn into a world of dangerous assumptions with drastic consequences.
All the other shorts are impeccable in their own right – we could wax lyrical for many more pages if we could. All in all, this collection is another absolute must-have. Dispel any assumptions that the glitzy and sexy cover may create, decry any presumptions that the theming is mere gimmick, and prepared to be thrilled.
Boys on Film: Cruel Britannia is released on DVD from 28 May 2012 and is available to buy on Amazon UK.
Featured image: Nightswimming. Photograph: Courtesy of Peccadillo Pictures.