It’s good, but it’s no “King of Comedy”

Gerard Corvin 15 October 2009

Film Review: Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee – (3 Stars)

Gerard Corvin is bemused by Shane Meadows’ experimental mockumentary

This tightly plotted 71 minute mockumentary from Shane Meadows is a great antidote to the flabby tedium of last week’s high-concept comedy Invention of Lying.

Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee is heralded as a lighter, sweeter slice of life from the bard of the Midlands (whose great films This is England and Dead Man’s Shoes also had their fair share of laughs). Meadows himself has a bit of on-screen time as the director following the tracks of a Saxondale-esque rock roadie, Nicholas aka Le Donk (Paddy Considine) and his protegee the 20-stone rapper Scor-zay-zee (played by real life musician Dean Palinczuk, although he could easily pass for the eccentric mingling of Silent Bob and Little Britain’s wheelchair-bound sadist Andy Pipkin).

As well as managing Scor-za-zee, Le Donk also supplies some bizarre backing vocals to the rapper’s set which consist solely of telling a list of people as random as Fanny Cradock and Harold Shipman to ‘calm down’.

The pair travel up to Manchester in the hope of impressing a few industry bigwigs and securing a slot at an Arctic Monkeys concert. Considine cranks his Le Donk up to 11 in a performance of deadpan one-liners, gobsmacking ego-trips and shocking dance moves that ensures a constant supply of chortles and PeepShowian winces (if not any major belly laughs).

Considering that most of this was improvised in the space of the astonishingly short 5 day shoot Considine proves that he has genuine comic potential, particularly when placed alongside the cameos from the zero-charisma Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley of the Monkeys.

Yet, the film’s best scenes come near the beginning when the cameras follow Le Donk through his daily routine in Nottingham as he self-consciously tries to present an image of himself that doesn’t, in his words, “expose me as a maniac”.

This comes very close to happening, however, during an awkward meeting with his pregnant ex-girlfriend Olivia (Olivia Colman from Peep Show, where she also plays the pregnant ex-girlfriend of a socially awkward loser- typecast, perhaps?) and her new lover.

Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee would have benefited from more small, well-observed scenes like this. Lack of time and money no doubt had much to do with Meadows’ eagerness to crack on with the film’s main plotline.

According to the press release, this movie is part of Warp Films’ “Five Day Feature” project, a format that does pretty much what it says on the tin (for less than £50k).

Whilst accepting this enterprise as a curious, Le Donk-esque experiment in shoe-string filmmaking, rather than a stringently Stalinist norm for talented and challenging directors such as Meadows, it does raise the question ‘Is this the future for indie filmmaking after the credit crunch?’

Increasingly, it seems that we are only seeing two types of films: the mammoth-size Avatar 3D fares with budgets larger than the GDP of a small country and the kind of cheaply distributed films which one day are in select cinemas, the next are ready to be downloaded onto computers and iPhones and in a few weeks will probably be on More4 anyway.

My problem with all this is that it takes away something essentially cinematic from the approach to filmmaking. In the case of this film, I couldn’t help thinking that if Meadows and his financers had shared some of Le Donk’s foolhardy ambition they could have given us something much more satisfying.

Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee is now showing at the Arts Picturehouse.

Gerard Corvin