Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Convenience

Every so often, a little British comedy comes along and takes its audiences by storm. For example, Shaun of the Dead came along in 2004 (wow, is it really that long ago?), Four Lions in 2010 and Sightseers in 2012, all of which earned rave reviews and loyal fans – one more than the others in this case, granted, but there’s something about these films that people love. If you’re one of these people who love them, you’re in luck! Say hello to another British comedy which could certainly hold its own against any of the others. Out now on DVD comes the brilliant Convenience, directed by Keri Collins. 


The plot is very simple, but in its simplicity lies genius originality. Shaan (Adeel Akhtar) finds himself owing £8,552.62 to some very bad people after spending a night in their strip club, looking for somewhere to read. With his best friend Ajay (Ray Panthaki) by his side, the bumbling pair attempt to rob an all-night petrol station to get the money. But after one thing leads to another and they discover the safe is on a time lock and won’t open til 6am, Shaan and Ajay find themselves waiting it out and posing as staff under the supervision of Levi (Vicky McClure), working the night shift until the safe can be opened. Right off the bat, Convenience stands out as being an original concept - which in today’s world of remakes, reboots and sequels sure feels refreshing. 


Convenience takes place almost entirely within the petrol station walls with Akhtar, Panthaki and McClure spending the majority of their screen time with nobody else around. Where a weak cast could cause this concept to collapse, the likable lot here rises to the challenge with great chemistry and talent between them. Akhtar brings a sweet, unassuming and gentle side to the clumsy Shaan – a similar set of traits to his character in the brilliant Four Lions, while his co-star Panthaki’s performance shines equally as Ajay’s frustration with his friend increases. Vicky McClure, of This is England fame, also delivers a brilliant performance as the wry Levi. Other characters come and go in the form of unusual customers, including Verne Troyer (Austin Powers’ Mini Me) as a slightly out-of-place Stetson-wearing and wine-drinking dwarf, and Anthony Head as a suicidal businessman. For anyone who has worked in any form of retail, you’ll be able to relate to these well-observed peculiar customers.

Another reason this film could’ve not worked would have been a bad script – luckily, that is not even close to being an issue with Convenience. Easily one of the funniest and most sharply written comedies in a long time, there is humour behind almost every line of dialogue in the film. And the pacing is fantastic; the film flies by in what feels like minutes despite being set in one shop and with so few characters. As more dramas attempt this fewer characters concept, such as one-man shows Locke and Buried, it’s always nice to see a comedy pull it off to such great effect. But it’s not all laughs. Like any good comedy, there are a couple of scenes of heart that really work – particularly where Shaan and Ajay’s friendship is concerned. We’ve all got a mate like Shaan. If you haven’t, chances are you are the Shaan of your friendship circle.


I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from Convenience. I hadn’t heard much about it and I was worried the low-budget might be reflected in the film-making. But within the first ten minutes, my worries went away. Like Set Fire To The Stars, Convenience is clearly made with love and just goes to show what you can do on a tight budget. I haven’t got a bad word to say about it. It’s hilarious, it’s very well acted, the pacing is brilliant and there’s a lot of heart in it too. It’s just a perfect little film. Director Keri Collins won the Breakthrough Award at the 2014 BAFTA Cymru Awards, and it’s easy to see why. I know we’ll be seeing a lot more of him soon, and as others have said before me – Convenience is destined for cult status. Watch it. You’ll thank me later.

Convenience puts in overtime and earns a solid 5/5.

★★★★★

Sam Love


Convenience at CeX


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