Deadly Advice

Jane Harrocks

Deadly Advice
Made in: Great Britain
Language: English
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Starring: Jane Harrocks, Imelda Staunton, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Pryce, Ian Abbey
Year: 1994

Synopsis: Two sisters living under the iron fist of their mother (Brenda Fricker) are subject to a life of fear and constant derision (like working as the mascot for the SF Giants).

Frumpy, outgoing big sister Beth (Imelda Staunton) and quiet, little sister Jodi (Jane Harrocks) realize that if they don't find a way to be free of mum, they'll face the inevitability of spinster-hood.

Things come to a head when Beth secretly begins dating a male stripper named Bunny (Ian Abbey) while Jodi's friendship deepens with the gentle but older town doctor, Ted (Jonathan Pryce).

In the midst of enduring mum's deep and irrational disapproval of her relationship with Ted, Jodi is visited by the friendly spirits of notorious, long-dead murderers.

The infamous spirits offer a variety of methods in which meek and unassuming Jodi could easily do away with mum once and for all. Although appalled with the thought of murder, Jodi begins pondering the idea.

But life without mum creates unintended consequences...

The Good: The ever-present British wit. Jane Harrocks (of the popular British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous ) does a great job carrying the film. Her exchanges with the murderous spirits are charming, and bring wicked fun to the subtle but terribly sick humor.

Imelda Staunton, who went on to receive an Academy Award Nomination for best leading actress in Vera Drake (2004) is well cast alongside Harrocks and brings strong energy to the mix.

Both do a superb job of playing out the personality contrasts of their respective characters, setting the stage for the deeper psychological undertone of the narrative.

The Bad: The mediocre cinematography. Maybe it's because I watched an awful DVD transfer of this film, but Deadly Advice had the visual quality of one of those boring dramas that you see on Public Television. The exposure was uneven, the lighting was very muddy at times, etc.

This movie is engaging, but the stale look is a turn-off and is thematically irrelevant.

Who would like this movie: Were it not for the dull cinematography and seemingly haphazard sound work, I'd recommend Deadly Advice to a wider audience. And it's a shame that I can't, because the visual shortcomings do become a glaring distraction.

This guilty pleasure of a film best if you're already familiar with British entertainment and appreciate foreign films.

(2 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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