It’s always a thrill when a filmmaker makes a complete u-turn from their previous project, and Torquay-based Ed Chappell has certainly done that with Clive.
Co-directing with Sam Morgan (who also writes and stars), it’s a complete change from the brooding, ghostly atmosphere of his recent Lost Hearts adaptation, owing more to the morbid edginess of Monty Python or The League of Gentlemen.
David Rees stars as the eponymous Clive, whose reluctance to go on holiday forces his friend, Doug (Morgan) into drastic, and darkly comic, action. He will dismember Clive and take him abroad in his carry-on luggage. After all, who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to save on the cost of the air fare?
Much of Clive’s success rests on Morgan’s shoulders, whose air of wide-eyed lunacy (psychosis?) is the unsettling and hilarious focal point of the film. Likewise, Rees is genuinely funny as the eponymous character coming to terms with his gruesome fate.
Occasionally however, it’s unclear whether the characters of Doug and Clive are intended as plausible depictions of disturbed minds or a series of mannerisms designed for comic exploitation. Is it simply an excuse for comic indulgence? In the end, the conviction in Morgan’s performance, not to mention the film’s wonderful eye for absurdity, would indicate otherwise.
This sense of absurdity materializes in both in the visuals and in the dialogue, especially when Doug begins to verbalize imaginary conversations with his deceased friend (represented by a bloody hand sticking out of his holdall). An early conversation overlooking a power station is also very funny. Ultimately, Clive is a bizarre and inscrutable piece of work but earmarks both filmmakers as talents to watch out for.