Thank God for Debbie Isitt.
Just as it was looking like every young British film-maker had jumped
on the tediously laddish Lock Stock bandwagon, along she comes with
a deliciously vicious black comedy that restores your faith in homegrown
Fresh, energetic, and informed by a bright intelligence and a sick
wit, Isitt's debut feature gleefully peels away the apparently cosy
veneer of cul-de-sac life to reveal the anxiety, frustration, anger
and jealousy festering away underneath. Margaret Thatcher said there
was no such thing as society, but Isitt seems to be saying is that
little has changed under Tony Blair's wobbly helmsmanship.
This might sound heavygoing, but Isitt generally makes her points
with a light touch. She employs a vogueish mock-doc style that lends
the action immediacy and edge; while her use of split screen really
makes you feel the mounting tension between the couples, and heightens
the excitement of an impromptu road race between Tomlinson and Daniels.
Isitt's willingness to allow her actors to improvise makes the
men's face-to-face confrontations edgy and unpredictable, particularly
during a horribly real back-garden brawl. Tomlinson is, of course,
excellent. He humanises his interfering, narrow-minded Little Englander,
making him as pitiable as he is monstrous. Meanwhile, over the fence,
Daniels gives his vulgar neighbour an arrogant swagger that would
All concerned, in fact, pull their weight in this low budget gem.
Nasty Neighbours is a triumph of talent and imagination over limited
funds and time. It will make you laugh, think and feel, and you
cannot say that about many Brit flicks these days.
Nasty Neighbours was adapted by Isitt from her own stage play,
but you wouldn't know it. Her fresh visual style and free-wheeling
direction leave no room for theatrical distractions, as Daniels
and Tomlinson face-off among the pansies and shrubbery of suburbia.
A new film-making talent has arrived.