Review by Jack Foley
IN MANY ways Dangerous Parking is every bit as difficult to watch, not to mention impossible to like, as its central character. It’ll sorely test the patience of every viewer. But you can’t help feeling a begrudging respect for the work that went into getting it made or the bravery of the driving force behind it: writer, director, producer and star, Peter Howitt.
The film really does epitomise the term “warts and all” and I doubt if you’ll see a more daring performance by an actor this year.
Noah Arkwright (Peter Howitt) is an arrogant British filmmaker with an all-consuming drink and drugs problem whose hedonistic lifestyle is about to catch up with him fast.
The ensuing story jumps back and forth in time through his wildest excesses, his stint in rehab, marriage, fatherhood and his numerous battles against bladder cancer.
Based on the widely acclaimed autobiographical novel by Stuart Browne, Dangerous Parking employs a fractured narrative that jumps at an increasingly rapid rate between the key moments in its protagonist’s life. As a result, the tone occasionally feels uneven and Howitt, as director, could have done with exercising a little more restraint.
It’s confrontational approach makes it extremely difficult to sympathise with the central character such is the selfish, arrogant and self-destructive nature of his early years, while a near-constant, clever-clever voiceover also becomes tiring even during the latter stages.
But there’s no denying the movie confronts some big issues without passing judgement and will make viewers ask some very relevant questions about the nature of life and death, while the performances all-round (including those of Saffron Burrows and Sean Pertwee) are first-rate.
As such, it’s a provocative piece of cinema that’s likely to leave you feeling a wealth of emotions ranging from anger, frustration and despair to happiness and even sorrow. The length, too, demands a great deal of patience.
That it ultimately left me feeling drained and uncertain of its merits probably has more to do with Howitt’s refusal to compromise on what’s contained in the novel than any inherent failings in the film. But even though I continue to have my reservations about some of the content and structure – and couldn’t quite bring myself to completely forgive Noah – there’s no denying the bravura nature of Howitt’s central performance or his unstinting commitment to a project that took four years to complete. It’ll stay with you for some time afterwards.
Running time: 1hrs 49mins
UK DVD Release: September 29, 2008