The Scotsman’s film critic Alistair Harkness gives us his take on recent DVD releases
Anchor Bay, £15.99
SWITCH is the sort of preposterous stolen-identity thriller that becomes more entertainingly awful the further it diverges from credibility. Not that it starts out in particularly believable fashion. When cash-strapped Montreal fashion illustrator Sophie Malaterre (Karine Vanasse) is encouraged by a potential employer to sign up with an online flat-swapping service, her subsequent sojourn to Paris to stay in an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower takes a horrible twist when the police break down her door to find, among other things, a decapitated body in the apartment, her prints all over the murder weapon and her photo in the apartment owner’s passport. Reason dictates her identity issues could be cleared up within a matter of minutes. Reason, however, is not high on the agenda, something signified by the casting of Eric Cantona as the lead detective. Whether by accident or design, he does make it easier to buy into the idea the cops are so rubbish it’s not actually a surprise when the suspect has to explain to them why checking her dental records might help prove who she is. Indeed, by the time the twist comes – and it’s breathtakingly silly – it’s hard not to have some smirking admiration for the sheer chutzpah of all involved.
Black Pond Films, £14.99
THERE’S an element of chutzpah in Black Pond too, the opening scenes of which feature disgraced actor Chris Langham reflecting on a scandal that has resulted in his character being splashed across the tabloids. Cutting close to the bone, it’s the sort of thing that could easily have backfired had the ensuing film not been such an accomplished, well-observed and refreshingly oddball work. Put that down to the performances and to first-time directors Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe, whose ability to mix the comedy of extreme discomfort with astute insights into contemporary middle-class mores takes the film in surprising directions. That’s important, because the film reveals at the outset the nature of the scandal that has tainted the brilliantly named Tom Thomson (Langham) and his family. What follows is a sort of mock-doc reconstruction of the events preceding it, with after-the-fact reflections and surreal dream sequences deepening our understanding of the characters in strange and poignant ways. A very promising debut.