Title: Booked Out
Director: Bryan O’Neil
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romantic
Stars: Mirren Burke, Rollo Weeks and Sylvia Syms
Review by: Allan
“There is a thin line between love and stalking.”
When she isn’t carefully crafting her own graphic novel Ailidh (Mirren Burke) is addicted to people watching. Making meticulous notes and taking Polaroid photographs of her neighbours from the comfort of her flat the sweet quirky girl becomes infatuated by new cute guy Jacob (Rollo Weeks). The quiet lad visits the building each day to care for Jacqueline (Claire Garvey) who following a tragedy spends her waking hours not eating while watching classic animated kids shows. Ailidh’s infatuation with Jacob results in carefully staging meet-cutes but has little success, apparently joking about being a child killer isn’t the best way to flirt…
Things change once she introduces him to Mrs Nicholls an elderly woman living upstairs struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. The young pair attempts to distract her from her loss with tall tales of France and fake language lessons. Booked Out is the tale of these four souls trying to find their place in the world, make sense of what life has thrown at them and attempting to find an easy way to move on.
Full disclosure, I know and have worked with writer/director Bryan O’Neil which in no way affects this being a very impressive feature length debut.
From the opening titles with hand drawn art alongside a gorgeous musical score the film grabs the viewers’ attention. This is aided by the bright, energetic performance by Burke as Ailidh literally lighting up the room with her smile. Shot in the 2:35 ratio the frame is carefully filled with contrasting visuals and interesting performances from a cast of fresh faces involved in a modern love triangle and the always reliable Sylvia Sims.
Reminiscent of the works of Wes Anderson and the love it or loathe it charm of Amélie this is a gentle comedy with a sweet nature not afraid to go into slightly darker subject matter. On paper Ailidh’s stalker-esque antics to get the attention of the otherwise distracted Jacob could be read as verging on the wrong side of crazy but Burke is so instantly sweet and endearing it works. As Ailidh has a slightly fanciful way of looking at romance it is understandable for the wee lass to have mixed up emotions, significantly preferable to her ending up chasing the object of her affection with an axe – which would have made for a terrible third act thankfully O’Neil keeps things romantically comedic.
Jacob is the harder character to get involved with and it is tough to see exactly what our young heroine sees in the tall, dark mysterious stranger aside from his tall, dark mysterious nature. Yet it doesn’t matter because thanks to a naturalistic script, skilled direction, slick production values and a likable cast the film is an entertaining watch.
In conclusion, away from all the barn storming, FX heavy blockbuster behemoths Booked Out makes for a refreshing low budget indie flick that signals a new film maker to keep your eye on in the future.
To find out more about Booked Out go to: http://bookedoutfilm.com/