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Review : TF2 - 'Take it Back...' in TV Bomb

Robert Peacock has written a review for Tartan Features TF2 - 'Take it Back and Start All Over' at TV BOMB.

Shot for just £1000, Take It Back And Start All Over is the debut feature of Edinburgh director Neil Rolland. It’s a painfully real depiction of the frustrations and stunted dreams of thirty-something married life in our capital city. New mother Jennie hankers to return to the singing and songwriting she enjoyed in her younger years, only to be frustrated by a lack of support from her unemployed, couch-dwelling husband Brian. With the pressures of child-rearing, money issues and outside temptations, the marriage begins to fall apart.

As the creator of Write Shoot Cut, a platform for new Scottish filmmakers to get on screen, Rolland has pulled a few strings to bring in Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones) for a cameo as Jennie’s friend Emily. For the most part, though, cast and crew are newcomers, with Rolland and off-screen wife Kerri Clarence taking the lead roles.

The low budget has proved no barrier to a well-put together film, with strong writing, pleasing realism and some excellent cinematography. Of necessity many scenes have been filmed in the Rollands’ flat but creative use has been made of it. There are beautiful lighting effects, be they sunlight piercing through the flat windows, night lights streaming across Jennie’s face as she sings to daughter Evie or moonlight illuminating Brian’s post-Playstation session slumbers. Edinburgh inevitably makes an interesting backdrop for external shots too, from a mother and daughter playground scene to Jennie’s pub doorway conversation with her fellow barmaid.

The dynamic of Jennie and Brian’s relationship is spot on, almost too real to be enjoyable, and although there’s no major shocks in store, the way the film resolves is nevertheless satisfying and rounded. The only weakness lies in the acting, as Rolland himself admits in the post-screening Q&A. Self-confessedly not an actor, he has perhaps over-stretched himself by writing, directing, producing and starring. Clarence too is inexperienced, although there are definite patches where she seems to have found her rhythm, as in the subtle emotional shifts when she phones round venues looking for a gig, in the style of J R Hartley searching for Fly Fishing.

Casting is revealed to have been a problem, and rushed to fit a five day window for the shoot. It means no-one’s in an ideal role. Rolland is too mild-mannered and likeable to properly convey Brian’s drunken waywardness, while Clarence seems too at ease as a doting mother to suggest there’s a frustrated muso underneath. It’s certainly hard to believe she’s the rock ‘n’ roll star fellow muso Josh (Kyle Titterton) was once starstruck by. Titterton is not the strongest of singers either, another result of casting issues, but in the context of the film makes a good foil to the lead couple (although he could’ve given his guitar a tune).

Given all the constraints faced, and from the Q&A session it sounds like there were many, …Start All Over remains mightily impressive and a credit to the strength of local filmmaking. That £1000 was definitely money well spent.

You can read the full TV Bomb review here:

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