Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Aidan Gillen.
Directed and Written by Simon Blake
Like his character in Photo First, Aidan Gillen’s Tom is another talented but unknown photographer. The driving force of Still, however, is Tom’s grief over the death of his son. Divorced from his wife, Rachel (Amanda Mealing), but on good enough terms that they visit his grave together, the direction in this film is phenomenal, using mid to wide shots with cinematography to draw attention to the setting without resorting to coded imagery. No hardened color palette, to reflect a destructive environment, is necessary to figure out that this is a bad part of London. Youth gang activity is prominent and, at a job taking school photos, Tom meets Jimmy (Joseph Duffy), whose older brother, like his son, has been recently killed.
Still shows restraint in playing out their relationship and in many ways I admire that choice. It’s more realistic to have Tom be someone who passes through Jimmy’s life, than a life-changing mentor, and the clichés that would’ve come from trying to turn Jimmy into a surrogate son for the one Tom lost, while nice in Hallmark movies, would’ve been false here. The material is great, though, and what Still chooses to focus on instead has its flaws.
Shortly after talking to Jimmy, Tom starts being targeted at his home by kids in the neighborhood. It’s never clear exactly why, or if there is a reason, but the pranks escalate until to call them pranks is generous. These are threats but threats that are immediately put into perspective when Tom’s girlfriend is gang raped. Characters respond quietly. The trauma of this violence is treated with the proper gravity but it shouldn’t have been a plot point at all. In a movie already dealing with the murder of two children, to add in such a horrible assault feels tacked on to ignite a response. There aren’t enough conversations around the crimes young adults start out committing. By jumping to one of the worst case scenarios, there can be no conversation. You have to be on Tom’s side, and the film makes way for its extreme, dark ending. A movie ending, and not in a good way, instead of all this built-up tension leading to an emotional response by Tom, it produces a horrible physical one.
Verdict: Not Sure
There’s another, more introspective version of Still that would’ve been buried treasure and you can see that potential in Tom’s interactions with Jimmy, or the characterization of one of Tom’s “pranksters,” when alone from the rest of his crew. Stylistically, it’s beautiful. The direction the movie goes plot-wise is disappointing.
Check back tomorrow for a look at Aidan Gillen’s performance in a film about photography and trying to preserve the past.