Another of those Play for Todays Mike Leigh did for the BBC back in the 70′s. Don’t remember seeing this at the time, but watched it 3 or 4 times in the last few years. Why? Because it makes me laugh my head off every time i see it.
I could have easily uploaded the whole of this film onto YouTube. But I’ll stick with Trevor and Linda’s ‘romance’. Yes, it has to be put into inverted commas; theres such an passive-aggressive dynamic going on, you wonder if they’re loathing one another more than they’re actually liking one another.
Linda (Kay Adshead) and Trevor (David Threlfall) are in the pub becoming acquainted
“I used to work in a supermarkeht, dead borin ent et?” says Linda. Forever and again you will have to say “dead borin” in a dead borin voice, exactly like Linda. Nothing else will be alllowed. Otherwise its dead borin.
Linda is coming on to Trevor. Trevor is “Dunno, Yeah, No” bemused by her. Or he starts gormlessly grinnin and laughin at her.
This is dead funneh, ent it? That smirk is not going to leave your face. Look,
Talk about the odd couple. This is about as quirky-awkward as it gets.
Trevor has gone round to see Linda in her shoe shop. Then they’ve gone to Roxeh and the pub. Trevor is being “dead quiet”. “Do you think I’m dead pretteh?” asks Linda. “Yeah” goes Trevor.
Trevor likes sitting in graveyards but not dancing in discos.
Linda is expecting a goodnight kiss off Trevor. But Trevor doesn’t know - even if he wants to, or how to. Flummoxed. A right Flummox is our Trevor.
He’s playing at it. Or alienated by it. This chatting up malarkey. This going out with a girl stuff. Best to alienate back. Play it cool. To hide your embarrassment at feeling embarrassed. Best act catatonic, or moronic – then nobody, no girl, will know how hopeless you are at all of this.
He stood Linda up did Trevor. So she’s ditched him. He doesn’t want to be ditched. So he’s trolling off around to her place (see the silly wanky walk?) Linda’s got her own silly walk. To go along with her other gummy chew sillyisms
“Are you being funneh again?!” Eh? Yeah. He is. He’s a funny lad. A right oddbodball. Whats he want anyway? He dunno. Summat.
I’m still laughing. This is still dead funneh. Anyway, he’s redeemed himself; carried a granny up the stairs. He’s quite used to handling dead old bodies (being an undertakers assistant) or old bodies that might be about to be dead.
Time for the Kiss of Death scene, (or The Worst Way To Kiss A Girl Ever scene)
Whats going on here? A wrestling for control to see who holds the power. She laughs at him, so he’ll laugh at her. She’s ridiculing him, he’s mocking her. She wants him to kiss her, he withholds what she wants. She wants to go upstairs for a shag, he gets embarrassed. She gets fed up, he feels inadequate. She feels frustrated, he gets scared. She feels disappointed, he’s walking out. She feels rejected, he feels resigned. She asks him out, he goes “Yeah”. Think it ends in a draw.
A whole load of ambivalence. Thats what this has been about. The push and pull of girl-boy romance, to the nth degree of embarrassment.
In the end he ends up going to the disco; but he doesn’t dance with her. So she dances with Trevs mate Ronnie instead. Trev gets pissed off. Then he starts laughing that sneery fuck-off laugh again.
I doubt Trevor and Linda got very far with one another. She’d have quickly moved on to some other bloke who had the balls to go upstairs with her, a guy not as dead borin as Trevor turned out to be.
He’ll have lost interest in her and probably ended up not having a proper girlfriend until he’s properly grown up – say, by his mid-30′s. In the interim he’s misfitted himself through a series of dead-end jobs (buh-bum) or maybe joined some goth band as an angry drummer. Or maybe he went off the rails…….
I love these early Plays For Today Leigh did for the BBC between 76-84: Nuts in May, Abigails Party, Home Sweet Home, Grown-Ups, and this Kiss of Death. There’s more genuine laughs to be had. They’re parodic but not unsympathetic. There’s absurdity and affection and ridiculousness, plus a warm kind of melancholy tugging at you – at me – somewhere hopelessly hurt inside.
Don’t think I’m ever not going to watch these all too human, bittersweet sad slices of life.
Dir: Mike Leigh, UK
Gonna have to give it such a high mark because it makes me laugh everytime. I don’t mean like “laugh” laugh, I mean like honk, in loud uncontrollable guffaws like a demented donkey.