Beard Envy is a surreal journey into an aspirational, envy-ridden day-mare. Based on the spoken-word poetry of Robert Garnham, it tells the story of one person’s dream to have a beard.
The beard envier – Dan A Beard – is played by the wonderfully wide-eyed fresh-faced Jack Allum, who is constantly perplexed, amused, confused but mostly envious of the beards he encounters.
And what a range of beard-based brushes they are! From bumping into the South West’s most famous pirate Cpt’n Blackheart in a historical setting, through a tidal wave of beard competitors, science lab, barber’s shop and a wistful bus journey.
The first beard encounter is at Torquay Museum, and along with the location of Paignton’s The Lucky 7 Club, the settings add a sense of the real to this very other-world adventure, making it even more tangibly bizarre.
What’s lovely too is that the crowd of beardies are real… well… beardies. They combine with a range of actors, who sprout their own sense of ‘odd’. And Robert’s own dryly enthusiastic narration captures a sense of another, slightly off-set consciousness.
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Quick-paced, the short film comes in at just over five minutes, and we can’t even guess at the length-of-beard-per-second ratio.
There are strong visuals from the duo of DoPs Jacob Brandon and Julian Kemp, and screenplay by Tom Eastwood has transferred the essence of a live stand-up to the opportunities of a multi-faced media environment.
Beard Envy belongs in that pantheon of engaging off-kilter flicks – it’s a quick excursion into the smile-enducing surreal.
Directed, produced and edited by John Tomkins, Beard Envy is beautifully British, eccentrically English and fittingly hopeful for hirsute heroes and wannabes alike.