So, this is the first review since my big announcement, for those who missed it, it’s here. So with that in mind, what piece of horror media will I review to get in the mood for it? Oh, it’s a film about scrabble. It does feature death, maybe. It’s about a family struggling with someone running away years ago, and still suffering from not knowing what happened. The father copes by playing scrabble. Yeah, it’s strange, but within the context of the film, it works. This film is all about the script and the characters, and it completely nails both of those. The dialogue is razor-sharp and the characters are all well-defined to the point where you feel you have already met these characters.
The way they interact with each other is really sweet too, you understand the family dynamics easily and it’s incredibly heartwarming at times. So why have I not raved about great this movie is to everybody? From a technical standpoint, it looks a little cheap. I’m not sure if it was a stylistic choice or not but it didn’t really work for me. Also whilst the script is good, the story kind of meanders and doesn’t do enough. Characters are heavily focused on for one scene then never mentioned again. It aims for a slice-of-life dramedy but adds a bit too many plotlines which go unresolved to really seem satisfying. It seems at time that the story doesn’t know what it’s about so aims for as many themes as possible in the hopes of finally grasping onto one. The title comes from a discussion about buttons on suits (you sometimes do the top one up, always do the middle one up, and never do the bottom one), it seems a bit weird for a film where the themes are scrabble and words, to take the title from a rule about suit-buttons. It’s like they put that scene in just to explain the title.
The cast are pretty damn good in this though. Bill Nighy’s accent sometimes wavers but never too distractingly. Alice Lowe continues to be great, Louis Healy has a future in ITV dramas, and Sam Riley really shows off his range. The oddest highlight for me was Ella-Grace Gregoire. She’s not in it for long but has great screen presence and her natural charm lights up the scenes she’s in. This is helped by tremendous chemistry with the aforementioned Healy and Lowe. Interested to see what she does next and looking forward to it.
There is a really heartwarming and lovely film within this, it just tries a bit too hard to be a mix of Wes Anderson and quirky British drama, whilst never really approaching the heights needed for both.