04th May2015

‘Flim: The Movie’ Review

by Stuart Wright

Stars: Raffaello Degruttola, Steven Waddington, Rebecca Atkinson, Jody Marriott Bar-Lev, Kacey Barnfield, Camille Coduri, Josh Cohen, Shelley Conn, Collette Cooper, Dan Davies, Skye Lucia Degruttola, Simone Lahbib, David Elliot, Sadie Frost, Christopher Fulford, Abhin Galeya | Written and Directed by Raffaello Degruttola

flim-the-movie-poster

Flim The Movie is a very clever, very funny mockumentary. It was a surprise hit at Raindance Film Festival 2014 and despite a low budget and miniscule marketing spend found itself nominated for a British Independent Film Award alongside big hitters like Calvary and The Imitation Game. The story centres around a hapless, wannabe Bollywood director called Ravi (played by Raffaello Degruttola). He claims to have made at least one short film back in India and has come to the UK to make his first feature film. Capturing this is the Nick Broomfield-cum-Louis Theroux documentarian Scott (played by Steven Waddington).

As well as star in it, Degruttola produced and directed it. Four years in the making, this debut was no orthodox production. Wherever Degruttola’s acting career took him, he would find a way, and the time, to film a scene or sequence, with those he was working with, that could be tied back to the central premise of Ravi making a film. Much of it is set around London, but when Degruttola has to work in Bulgaria, or has business to attend in LA, Ravi gets to shine too.

As a result much of the cast is littered with cameos of people playing themselves. Jane March is stalked by Ravi and calls the police to stop the harassment. Sadie Frost is brilliant as the yoga loving, nightclub loathing homebird. This heightened version of herself is akin to Rob Brydon/Steve Coogan on their hit TV series The Trip. Best of all is when Ravi meets Steve R Monroe – director of the I Spit On Your Grave horror reboot franchise – in Hollywood. Here Degruttola shows a real human side to Ravi’s character. As the horrendous rape revenge premise is described to him he looks on in disbelief and tells Monroe it’s disgusting. Why would the actress put herself through such an ordeal? Monroe is at pains to point out it’s not real; she’s acting – a fact of the filmmaking process Ravi struggles to comprehend.

Degruttola’s portrayal of Ravi is wickedly funny and frighteningly authentic. He lives and breathes his comic invention like Sacha Baron Cohen does Borat or Ali G. Something as simple as pronouncing ‘film’ as ‘flim’, where the title comes from, is an ongoing reminder this character is clueless. Degruttola is a handsome man, but he buries his own vanity to ensure Ravi says the least insightful things about making a film; and almost always it is wholly inappropriate too. However, it is always said with a complete lack of self-awareness and the conviction of a born leader. It’s a magical mix. The more film people he talks with, the stronger his undeniable belief in himself becomes. Correspondingly, his authoritative gobbledygook passes by without question. For Scott this is documentary gold.

It is said that the process of making a UK indie film is rather like supporting a football team – it’s the hope that’ll kill you. Obscured by the misadventures of Ravi there is perhaps a more serious message in Flim The Movie. How far thin air, outstanding invoices and enthusiasm, rather than hard cash, can take perfectly sane film professionals desperate to secure their next gig.

Simply put, Flim The Movie does for filmmaking what Spinal Tap does for rock music. It’s a wonderful farce with Ravi leading from the front and no one willing to shout the emperor has no clothes on.
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There’s an exclusive screening of Flim The Movie plus Q & A with Raffaello Degruttola at The Stow Film Lounge in Walthamstow, East London on Friday 8th May. Tickets can be bought online at https://billetto.co.uk/events/flim-the-movie-sfl

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