Greyhawk
R2 - United Kingdom - Metrodome Distribution
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (21st May 2015).
The Film

Mal Walker (Alec Newman) is a blind army veteran living in the heart of inner city London. His only companion, his only friend, is his guide dog called Quince. When Malís compensation for his injuries that caused his blindness that he sustained in Afghanistan come through he buys a cottage in the South Downs in the south of England. Moving day is just two days away and Mal cannot wait to escape the squalor of London. Disaster strikes when Mal takes Quince to a small patch of parkland. On the way he has a run in with some youths from the Greyhawk housing estate. They tease him about his blindness and Mal responds in his usual gruff manner. Later, whilst playing with Quince in the park Quince does not return after Mal throws the ball. Distraught, Mal calls out for Quince but the dog does not return. Mal then feels his way onto the Greyhawk estate, positive that his dog has been taken. What follows is Malís efforts to retrieve Quince and the different reactions this prompts from the residence of the Greyhawk estate.

Greyhawk is almost a throwback to the kitchen sink type films that were prevalent during the 1950ís to the late 1970ís. Everything is drab, grey and dull. Most of the characters that Mal encounters are rude and unpleasant, not unlike Mal himself. This is Guy Pittís directorial debut and he acquits himself very well. What I especially liked about Pittís direction is the way that we often only given the same information as Mal is. We see Malís reactions to situations but it is the sound of his surroundings that play a major part. This heightens the tension not only of Mal but of the viewer too. At the conclusion of the film Mal finds himself within an apartment in the flats with music blaring loudly over the soundtrack. Mal is completely disorientated and because the scene is shot in low light the viewer is just as disorientated. Pittís direction and skill works very well in putting the viewer in Malís shoes.

The real coup for this film is the performance of Alec Newman as Mal. Malís personality does not change throughout the film. He is as surly, miserable and rude at the start of the film as he is at the end. It would have been easy to have the character soften as he is shown kindness throughout the film (as well as wickedness) but Mal is Mal and he is unlikely to change. Newmanís performance is wholly believable and despite Malís shortcomings the viewer cannot help to feel real sympathy for his plight. Newman is in almost every scene of the film and a lesser actor might have destroyed the film but Newman pulls off the performance with deftness.

Video

Filmed and presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (anamorphic). The colours are muted throughout. Greys and beiges dominate not only the buildings but many of the characters clothes. When there are splashes of colour on the screen, such as several bunches of flowers appearing in frame at one point, they Ďpop outí of the screen nicely. Much of the main feature is filmed in semi darkness and the blacks look pretty good and quite deep. This is not a film to demonstrate the quality of your home cinema system but I feel it is an accurate representation of what the director intended.

Audio

There are three options available on the disc. English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Sound is very important to the film as it is to the main character Mal. The 5.1 Dolby Digital is definitely the system to go for as the spatial sounds are an integral part of the film. As mentioned before, the director does a very good job of putting the viewer in Malís position and the images would fall flat if the sound mix was not up to scratch, but thankfully it is. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the 2.0 sound mix if you want to immerse yourself in the film properly the 5.1 mix is the one to go with. The Audio Description for the film is a nice touch as I imagine people with sight difficulties will get more from this film than the average viewer. The voice of the person reading the description of the film is of no discernable accent other than itís from the South of England. The voice is male. The descriptions are very accurate and this sound mix is a welcome and well thought out bonus.

No subtitles are included.

Extras

Sadly there were no extras present on my review disc. This is a shame because I understand Alec Newman took on two days of training with a man called Billy Baxter, a former staff Sergeant in the British Army who became totally blind as a result of a virus he caught whilst exhuming bodies in Bosnia. It would have been good to see Newman going through his training and learning how to use his cane and how to negotiate outdoor spaces that he was not familiar with.

Overall

An enjoyable film with some excellent performances from the cast. The script is lacking in one or two areas. There seems to be a few too many instances of coincidence and good fortune for Mal but this does not detract massively against the film. The direction, for a debut especially, is very good and the use of sound is very clever and well thought out.

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: F Overall: B+

 


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