09th Jan2019

‘Happy New Year, Colin Burstead’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Neil Maskell, Sura Dohnke, Marvin Maskell, Nicole Nettleingham, Doon Mackichan, Bill Paterson, Hayley Squires, Mark Monero, Richard Glover, Sudha Bhuchar, Vincent Ebrahim, Sinead Matthews, Sarah Baxendale, Charles Dance, Joe Cole, Peter Ferdinando | Written and Directed by Ben Wheatley


Happy New Year, Colin Burstead follows in the stead of Ben Wheatley’s previous directing efforts, in particular his 2013 black and white acid trip exploit A Field in England, in the case of releasing his picture simultaneously on both demand and a limited cinematic release. However this may alos just be his unsung masterpiece in a filmography that continues to evoke a grand sense of evolution with each entry and distinctive palette, which reinforces Wheatley’s stunning artistic ability with every and any angle.

Wheatley’s latest is a somewhat ironic variation of his first cinematic feature in Down Terrace and his breakout action hit of 2016, Free Fire – with the former’s tentative approach to family dynamics and the latters atmospheric tension of space in structure and inept agitated nihilism of character; and the combination is a delicious recipe for a compelling piece of fractious narrative.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is also a combination of the farcical family thematics of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums and the opening forty five minute wedding sequence of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather – revelling in confrontation and passive aggressive mannerism, and aside from the brutally realistic and terrific performances, it’s this main theme of constant dispute that stimulates the audience.

Wheatley’s film is the only second feature throughout his filmography, since Down Terrace, to have the sole writing credit to the director. A frequent and longtime collaborator of the last five features with Wheatley – companion Amy Jump –  sits this one out; a factor that on paper doesn’t exactly lift confidence. Jump, also Wheatley’s editor has become a staple backbone to each of the director’s individual entries. Adding a significant elegance and polish to the pictures she is associated with. However, to Wheatley’s credit, his narrative and plot here are exceptionally insidious and seductive with an air of hubristic intent, of which the cast have a major influence.

The performances themselves are delicately crafted with a heuristic edge. Neil Maskell, as the titular character, teams up with Wheatley for the third time, after Kill List and High Rise. Yet, after this latest collaboration, the actor will undoubtedly never put forward a more spectacularly explosive and gripping performance. It is monstrous to a point of potent foreboding, never losing the edge of anger, layered with a delicate substance of understanding and a gripping weight with the chain of events that develop.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is available on VOD now.


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