Treacle Jr (15)

Odd couples have been a mainstay of comedy for many years and Treacle Jr – the third feature from Jamie Thraves –  clothes the funny, thoughtful duo at the heart of his funny, thoughtful film with plenty of hand-me-downs from the likes of Withnail & I and Midnight Cowboy. But does it have the layers of its predecessors? Josh Sweet found out.
Tom (Tom Fisher) is a mystery. At the start of Jamie Thrave’s funny and deceptive film the young-ish father and husband is gently tied to domestic bliss with a beautiful wife, son and home. Then, just as we’re finding our bearings, he unfathomably catches the train from hometown Birmingham to an indifferent London, where, as he settles down to a night in front of an office vent we realise he’s left his family, work, home and life behind for a half-pursued existence on the streets.
And that’s where he meets Aidan (Aidan Gillen), a permanently happy and gregarious Irish sprite with a floppy fringe and a high-pitched screech that unites Frank Carson with Sylvester the Cat. The vivacious, penniless Aidan soon attaches himself to Tom and after a series of failed escapes on Tom’s part, the pair eventually wind up co-habiting a grimy bedsit. There, in between some riveting and very funny schemes to earn a crust (including hedge trimming with a pair of scissors) the two spend their days wandering round the city while talking about trees, heaven and drum kits. But while the ear-to-ear grin upon the childish Aidan’s mottled mug widens, even in the face of brutal beatings from the big city, Tom’s despair only deepens…
Tom, Aidan and Aidan’s volatile ‘girlfriend’ Linda (Riann Steele) are waifs and strays of different creeds, yet each embodies a victimhood at the hands of a heartless, marginalising society. Tom, a 6ft ‘Lurch’ figure, clad in black, starts the film as a void and Aidan merrily fills this empty space with a succession of dreams, schemes and consistently funny and engaging exchanges. But unlike the classic cinematic odd couples they’re descended from, the split personalities of Tom and Aidan become less binary as the film proceeds, rather converging as they reveal their hopes, dreams and fears to one another.
Aided by a tight script that conjures Mike Leigh and Harold Pinter, like the kitten it’s named after Treacle Jr could have wound up little more than a next gen piece of fluff. The sharp claws it displays are a surprise but just as useful as its playfulness.
Treacle Jr is on UK national release from Friday 26th August. 
For tickets to Treacle Jr at The Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, click here.

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