Face Down In the Back of a Car

By Sion Thomas | Drama
A deadbeat is thrown in the back of a car and sped into the night.

Giggsy is just minding his business when he's kidnapped and thrown in the back of a car. His captors are Kieran and Liam, as well as Liam's tagalong friend Wayne, who is being brought along for his very first crime experience.

The gangsters' directive is to shake down Giggsy, who owes Liam money. But finding a remote enough location to accomplish this proves unexpectedly difficult, as mundane reality gets in the way.

Directed by Sion Thomas from a script co-written with Owen Davies, this short drama begins like any traditional crime story, with a dramatic kidnapping rife with tension. Following the conventions of the thriller genre, we think we know where this film is going as it sets us off for a standoff.

The action is rendered in dynamic, agitated handheld camerawork and a gritty muted palette. But then the film starts to shift, and as the camera grows still, the empty moments of waiting and boredom on a road trip are elongated. With no musical score, the sound design of the car and the world outside it paint an everyday world -- one where things are going wrong, judging from the car sounds revving up, police sirens in the distance and hazard and signal lights going on and off.

As the gangsters are forced to keep moving, the characters bicker as they try to manage an increasingly hapless situation. The excellently spiky dialogue captures the true characters under the hitmen's armor, full of quirks and even unexpected vulnerability. The cast works well within the confines of the almost experimental visual approach, with its static camera set-up. With two of the characters mostly unseen, voices and dialogue capture the uniquely Welsh character of the film, and actor Darren Evans as Giggsy provides wiry, cheeky energy to his would-be kidnapping victim. Giggsy's fate is unclear, but as the gangsters fall apart emotionally, he may just escape it yet.

Almost conceptual in its ability to take apart typical film conventions, "Face Down In the Back of a Car" still has a very dry humor and even a wry affection for its characters. They whip up the guise of tough-guy masculinity, but deep down, they're simply insecure and lost. It's a subtly humorous, deeply human deconstruction of aggressive masculinity, as well as a snapshot of how life's awkwardness gets in the way, no matter what. In the face of the unexpected, whatever control, power and force these men possessed come undone, revealing the almost unbearable vulnerability underneath.

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