Thursday, May 2, 2013

14. Big Nothing - 2006 (USA)

An indie film that's part crime thriller and part black comedy, Big Nothing is about a blackmail plot that goes wrong. Then wrong again. Then even more wrong.

Set in a relatively small town in everyday America, struggling writer Charlie (David Schwimmer) takes a job at a local call centre and befriends Gus (Simon Pegg), a bitter, but ever loveable cynic. After a pathetically dismal first shift, Gus talks Charlie into partnering on his blackmail scheme. It seems simple enough: use internet search records from the IT support call centre to find and blackmail people browsing illegal porn. Pay dirt comes in the form of a Reverend Smalls, having frequented not only illegal but under-age porn sites. So with the help of Gus' ex-lover, the street smart and once crowned Miss Teen Oklahoma, Josie (Alice Eve), they make the call.
This is where the black comedy part kicks in, with the pick-up being the first of the aforementioned wrong turns their plot takes. As the bodies start to pile up, the trio must reform their plan, numerous times, while also contending with the Reverend's vengeful wife, a suspicious detective, the accidental discovery of a snuff film ring, and Charlie's good-guy conscience.

Darkly funny and thoroughly twisted, this is an indie film through and through: consistently clever with a great soundtrack and the potential for a cult following. In fact, clever is the word of the day for this film: clever plot, clever characterisation, clever dialogue. Despite the gruesome events, there's always a playful back and forth between the characters, which sets the tone for the black comedy nature of the film perfectly. And co-writers Billy Asher and Jean-Baptiste Andrea have mastered their story, tactfully tying the loose ends of a previous mystery together before asking the audience to figure out the next big twist.

Fairly unknown Eve as the surprisingly blood-thirsty Josie, sets the pace for both the escalation and the unravelling of events, and becomes both loveable and hateable when the situation calls for either. Schwimmer and Pegg are brilliantly cast, and despite a fairly large difference in character, fall into step with each other seemlessly once they find themselves in over their heads.

This is a highly entertaining film in all respects, one I find makes a regular spin in my DVD player. Knowing how this film ends doesn't seem to stop watching how that comes about from still being shocking, or funny, or impressively clever. Big Nothing is definitely one to put on your list.

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