★★★★ | Set The Thames On Fire
London is slowly being engulfed by water while two young men attempt to survive in a society that’s gone a bit loony in the new film Set the Thames on Fire.
Billed as ‘an agony in 3 acts,’ this dystopian fantasy slash black comedy is set in the future where the London we know of today is gone, and there’s water everywhere because the Thames has overflowed, with Monument almost covered half way up in water. There are two levels of society, the rich and the poor, and Art (Michael Winder) and Sal (Max Bennett) fall in the later category. They meet at a cocktail party for the rich – Art is hired to play the piano while Sal, who has just escaped from a psychiatric hospital, gets by on his very good looks.
The men form a bond, and Art invites Sal to stay with him in his dilapidated flat. The landlord, Mrs. Hortense (Sadie Frost) wants the rent from Art but is satisfied when Sal pays her in sexual favors. The men dream of one day leaving for Egypt, escaping the cruel city that London has become, and even more so to escape the evil and ugly Impresario (Gerard McDermott) who now rules over the kingdom. But they encounter many eccentrics and weirdos in the pocket of the city in which they live; a fortune teller (Sally Phillips) who expresses disbelief in her daughter’s stupidity; a mad transvestite (the excellent and scary Noel Fielding) who is quite deranged and who expects both men to perform sexual acts on him; a magician (David Hoyle); and masked policemen who roam the city and kill on the spot – no questions asked.
Set the Thames on Fire is a buddy movie where two young men try to survive, and attempt to leave, a city that’s pretty much no longer habitable, with the Thames rearing it’s ugly head. It’s first time director Ben Charles Edwards who brings us a film that’s both different yet compelling. Great turns by both leads and a great supporting cast make this film reminiscent of one of Terry Gilliam’s films (Brazil) where society is not what it is today.
Set the Thames on Fire is in cinemas from 16 September, on demand from 19 September and on DVD from 26 September