A Fantastic Fear of Everything review

★★★★

via: A Fantastic Fear of Everything » Who’s Jack.

Simon Pegg takes the lead in this dark, funny and thoughtful British comedy.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything feels, at least in the opening scenes, like it could be distractingly derivative of other films. It is the first feature from co-directors Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell, who have both worked in the medium of music videos before graduating to full length movies. But while it wears its influences and intentions on its sleeve, it manages to combine them into a playful and dark package which is, in the very best sense of the word, charming.

The film follows Jack, played by a rakishly bedraggled Simon Pegg. Jack is a children’s author who finds his aptitude for weaving kiddie stories is unfulfilling, causing him to turn his attention to creating a work based around the exploits of some of London’s most nefarious serial killers. This proves a tough ask, as his paranoia grows and intensifies to the point that he can barely venture out of his flat. Only a script meeting that could reap Hollywood-sized rewards is a motivation sizable enough to force him to confront his reclusive tendencies.

Conversations with a therapist, revelations of childhood trauma and a climactic trip to a laundrette see Jack confront his fears, although there is a sense that the surface of his psychosis has barely been scratched by the time the credits roll. Which leaves the film, like its lead character’s issues, unresolved. And that is no bad thing.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything suffers the same problems as Dark Shadows in the trailer department, since people will be given the incorrect impression from the promotional shorts that this is a zany, breezy comedy with a few off the wall elements and not much else to say. It soon becomes apparent that the film is far darker in tone, with some genuinely unsettling moments and an involving portrayal of festering delusions at work. The comedic elements remain distinct from this, with farce and surrealism breaking up the tension to comfort the viewer, if not Jack himself.

Stylistically the film is something of a mishmash, with stop motion segments reminiscent of Tim Burton, dialogue that echoes Withnail & I and exaggerated characters that feel pulled from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie. But this is more Delicatessen than Amélie. The animated elements in particular have the effect of making everything feel like a dream, or more appropriately like we are inside of Jack’s fevered imagination.

The introduction of a love interest late in the film seems at least partially ironic and the whole product is made with a degree of self-awareness, without which it might be far less enjoyable. As a whole the sense of fun and mystery which is established at the start are what sustain A Fantastic Fear of Everything, and while it may not stem from a place of uniqueness, it certainly manages to stamp Britishness upon the aspects that are drawn from elsewhere. Which, in a summer of rampant patriotism, feels like an appropriately alternative response.

via: A Fantastic Fear of Everything » Who’s Jack.

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