29th Sep2015

‘Convenience’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ray Panthaki, Vicky McClure, Adeel Akhtar, Anthony Head, James Bradshaw, Joe Marsh, John Norton, Velibor Topic, Verne Troyer | Written by Simon Fantauzzo | Directed by Keri Collins


What’s this? I hear you cry. Nerdly reviewing a new British comedy? Yes, given the fact we tend to avoid British productions – especially those featuring football hooligans and/or gangsters, two “genres” which tend to proliferate the shelves of DVD stores and supermarkets everywhere (and two genres I consider the nadir in filmmaking) – and focus on mainly horror output from these shores, seeing Convenience reviewed on these pages may come as a shock. However never let it be said we (well, mostly I) won’t step out of our comfort zones once in a while. And this case I’m glad we did.

The feature debut of director Keri Collins, Convenience was filmed way back in 2013 and has already scored Collins the BAFTA Cymru Breakthrough Award last year. The film tells the story of Ajay and Shaan, two hapless friends who blunder in to a quiet petrol station convenience store to rob the place in dire need to find money to pay a debt Shaan inadvertently owes to some Russian strip club owners. Unfortunately after taking the staff hostage, Ajay and Shann realise the safe won’t open until 6am.

Desperate and with their lives on the line, they decide they must work there all night to avoid anyone raising the alarm before they get their money. However, as they struggle to deal with the feisty cashier Levi, the police, a suicidal businessman, a dwarf cowboy, and a variety of odd characters that frequent the store through the night; the friends’ plot begins to unravel and they are faced with either being arrested by the authorities, killed by the Russians or robbed at gun point…

There’s a reason I tend to avoid reviewing British comedies, I just don’t find them funny in the slightest. After all, I’m the guy that HATED Four Lions when everyone and their mother was raving about how funny it was… Thankfully Convenience is funny. Very funny.

To sum it up in uber-conventional terms, in the simplest definition, Convenience is a heist version of Kevin Smith’s Clerks, with some of the funniest and most memorable banter outside of the films of Smith and co.  Banter which works because of the cast, who feel less like actors performing roles than friends shooting the proverbial shit about life, relationships, their future… and, of course, armed robbery! Ray Panthaki and Adeel Akhtar, as Ajay and Shaan respectively, have a superb on-screen chemistry and great comedic timing – throw This is England’s Vicky McClure into the mix, with her snarky attitude and the fantastic way she manipulates the pair, and you have a core cast of characters that I could watch chatting for hours.

Thankfully the trio are surrounded by a great supporting cast, including a politically incorrect Verne Troyer as a foul-mouthed, attitude-filled customer; and Anthony Head in a tremendous, if small, role as a suicidal businessman. Head’s particular plot is at once touching and hilarious, really showing what a superb script – from screenwriter Simon Fantauzzo (who also penned the original story for this years Frightfest film Estranged) – Convenience actually has.

A very charming, very funny, very British heist movie, Convenience is in cinemas 2nd October and On Demand/DVD from 5th October.


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