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Gillian Anderson and Danny Dyer in Straightheads

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Dan Reed And Cast; Deleted Scenes With Audio Commentary By Cast & Crew; Behind The Scenes Cast Interviews; Theatrical Trailer.

DAN Reed’s desperate tale of rape and revenge is designed to offer a thoughtful insight into the corrosive effect of violence on its perpetrators – but its sensationalist, tacky approach makes it one of the worst films of the year.

Very little about Straightheads works on the level it’s supposed to. What’s envisaged as hard-hitting ends up being abhorrent, while the gutsy performances of its leads are continually undermined by the ineptitude of its script.

The film picks up as confident businesswoman Alice (Gillian Anderson) entices Adam (Danny Dyer), a man she has just met, to accompany her to a lavish party in the country.

The two strike up an instant chemistry and end up having sex in the woods outside the venue. But their joy is short-lived when they’re brutally attacked following a random encounter on the way home, leaving them emotionally and physically scarred.

For Alice, however, the only way to get her life back in order is to seek bloody retribution and she enlists the help of the reluctant Adam to do so – only to find herself contemplating how far is too far…

From the beginning, Straightheads attempts to shock by featuring nudity, masturbation and fornication even before the attack has occurred.

Thereafter, viewers are forced to contend with violent beatings and rape as part of Reed’s attempts to show how violence cannot be controlled once it has been used by either perpetrator or victim.

A former documentary filmmaker in war-torn countries such as Bosnia, Reed claims to have been inspired to make the film after witnessing (and preventing) a rape in Cuba and then suffering a recurring nightmare.

But while there’s certainly a case to be made in support of examining the themes behind the movie, the execution is so poorly handled that it ends up being a completely objectionable experience that totally undermines any of the worthy intent behind it.

Anderson, in particular, is let down by material that virtually humiliates her at every turn, while Dyer is laughable in his attempts to convey the mixed emotions of his character.

But the blame lies with Reed whose fascination with violence (and proximity to it) ultimately clouds his judgement. His decision to show Anderson’s rape twice is totally unnecessary and borderline voyeuristic, while Alice’s violent response is so over the top that it threatens to undermine the impact of the initial attack.

The result is an utterly unsavoury experience that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 78mins