Originally published on Set The Tape
STARRING: Paul McGann, Sean Teale, Tom Bateman, Callum Woodhouse, James Tratas
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Joe Ahearne
‘Marc and Fred went to war when they were refused a double bed at a remote Christian Guest house. They won in court and now they’re back to claim their conjugal rights. Triumph turns to terror when another guest arrives, who they think may have something sinister in mind. Their weekend of fun turns into a bloody battle for survival in this smart, brutally funny and dark thriller.’
B&B was not the film that I was expecting. I’d read they films description, watched the trailer, but when it actually came to watching the film it completely subverted my expectations as to what was going to happen.
I believed that the film would be a simple and straightforward thriller, in which Marc (Tom Bateman) and Fred (Sean Teale) would have to fight against the Russian gay basher Alexie (James Tratas) in some desperate struggle for survival. Instead, what B&B delivers is a much more layered and nuanced film that puts human relationships first, and focuses on how far people are willing to go for those that they love.
I don’t want to talk too much about the story, I think it’s much better to see it unfold as you’re watching it, so that none of the twists and turns in the narrative are spoilt. What I can talk about, however, are the phenomenal performances from the films cast.
Tom Bateman and Sean Teale are very believable as they gay husbands Marc and Fred. Having previously taken the B&B to court for not allowing them to have a double bed they’ve come back a year later to stay there again. Throughout the course of the film we learn that this decision was Marc’s, and comes from him being ‘a sore winner’.
A lot of films would go out of their way to paint Marc and Fred as the poor downtrodden victims in such a scenario, and would have them return to the B&B in some kind of act of catharsis, or some way of putting their past trauma to bed. Here, however, it’s because Marc is a bit of a dick and just wants to piss off the owner, Josh (Paul McGann).
It’s a nice change to see a character that could very easily be played simply as a victim as a real person, and even pushing it into unpleasant at times. It plays wonderfully well against McGann’s Josh, who should be the villain of the film, a man who goes out of his way to discriminate against people because of his religious views, but instead he actually comes across as very likeable at times.
This may have been a bigger shock for me than the subversion of expectations for the plot, the fact that I didn’t just hate Josh. As a member of the LGBT+ community, and someone who has faced discrimination on more than one occasion, I was prepared to hate McGann’s character. When I ended up caring for him, even sympathising in some scenes I was honestly shocked with myself.
It’s a testament to how well the script is written, and how good an actor McGann is, but by the end of the film I couldn’t even decide how I thought about Josh. I disliked him, and even wanted to hate him, but I also cared about him, and in some ways respected him. I felt conflicted and disturbed by the developments his character took, and in the way the film ended, that I wasn’t prepared for.
In a world where the LGBT+ community faces discrimination, where gay men are regularly attacked in Russia by characters such as Alexie, and where they’re even put to death in some countries, stories that show the very real fears and dangers that the community faces, even in as tolerant a country as England, is important.
Whilst the fear of being attacked by a gay basher leads to a much more complex and disturbing set of events in this film, and hopefully something that people will never have to experience, that fear of abuse, the fear of an attack, is a very real reality for a lot of people; and this film captures that well in the early parts of the story.
A subject that a lot of people wouldn’t think about, believing that the advancements of LGBT+ rights will have eliminated much of it, focusing on these issues is important in film; not just because it lends itself well to telling a good thriller story, but because film can often find ways to have its audience think about subjects it wouldn’t normally.
B&B is a very well crafted film, well written, and with a level of acting that elevates the story and characters. It addresses difficult to talk about subjects, and manages to create three-dimensional characters rather than stock caricatures. Whether a member of the LGBT+ community or not, this film will be sure to entertain, thrill, and terrify throughout.
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