Two Dramas from E1 Entertainment
The Elephant King (December 3/09)
Written and directed by Seth Grossman, The Elephant King follows aimless twentysomething Oliver Hunt (Tate Ellington) as he, at the request of concerned parents Bill (Josef Sommer) and Diana (Ellen Burstyn), heads to Thailand to track down his wayward brother (Jonno Roberts' Jake) - with complications ensuing as Oliver finds himself falling for a sultry local bartender (Florence Faivre's Lek). There's little doubt that The Elephant King fares best in its opening half hour, as Grossman initially draws the viewer into the proceedings by emphasizing the inherently exotic nature of the film's locale - with Oliver's culture shock effectively perpetuated by the irresistibly evocative visuals and impressive array of quirky supporting characters. There reaches a point, however, wherein the movie's almost egregiously deliberate pace - coupled with the waning novelty of the setting - results in an atmosphere of lamentable tedium, which ensures that one's efforts at working up any enthusiasm for Oliver and Jake's ongoing (and thoroughly laid-back) exploits are thwarted on an increasingly problematic basis. The authenticity of the brothers' love-hate relationship is subsequently rendered moot, and - given that the narrative is punctuated with some serious doses of melodrama as it draws to a close - The Elephant King is ultimately unable to live up to the relatively promising nature of its setup.
The Haunted Airman (February 4/10)
Made for the BBC, The Haunted Airman follows paralyzed soldier Toby Jugg (Robert Pattinson) as he arrives at a remote mansion to recover from his wounds - with problems ensuing as Toby finds himself suffering from a series of increasingly vivid hallucinations that may or may not be pharmaceutical in origin. It's clear almost immediately that The Haunted Airman's arrival on North American shores is due entirely to Pattinson's mere presence, as the film - though it runs a scant 68 minutes - has been infused with an interminably deliberate pace that's exacerbated by its wafer-thin storyline. Pattinson's strong work goes a long way towards initially compensating for the movie's myriad of faults, yet the pervasively uneventful nature of Chris Durlacher's screenplay inevitably lends the proceedings an oppressively stagnant vibe that becomes impossible to stomach. The love triangle that crops up between Toby, his doctor (Julian Sands' Hal Burns), and his aunt (Rachael Stirling's Julie Jugg) has clearly been designed to provide the movie with some much-needed dramatic tension, although it ultimately goes without saying that this aspect of The Haunted Airman is as unable to hold the viewer's interest as everything else within the narrative. The end result is a hopelessly uninvolving piece of work that is unlikely to appeal to even the most ardent Pattinson fan, with the short running time unable to disguise the aggressively underdeveloped nature of its pointless premise.