ALEXANDER COOPER / DAVID MACGOWAN PRODUCTION (2016)

 

Director: Ieva Makselyte

 

Starring: Daniel Westwood, Faye Sewell, Melissa Veszi, Alexander Cooper, David Magowan, Francesca Sgrò, Brian Carter, Alb An, Tasha Holz, Maike Koch

“The mirror shows two versions of you, but only one is real. Do you understand?”

 

Bought together by the matchmaking gift of Anna (Veszi), fellow young colleagues Heather (Sewell) and Neil (Magowan) meet at a party and hit it off right away. Neil’s attempts to woo her with talk of vintage wines falls on deaf ears and instead the two decide to just…talk candidly. This was clearly a better way of getting to know one another as the pair fall in love and become inseparable.

 

We all remember young love – never wanting to be apart, spending every second of the day thinking about that special person and sharing in everything together. Well, Heather and Neil are no different.

The balance is ruptured during an afternoon walk on a peaceful canal when they meet Machlis (Carter), an unassuming man who works as a VERY exclusive medium. Not content with tarot cards or predicting the future, Machlis claims to be able to show people their ‘parallel’ – an alternate version of themselves existing in a different realm. Imagine being able to see the complete opposite of your personality, well this is what Machlis can offer, just as long as you can keep the parallel in its alternate reality.

 

Hugely intrigued, Heather agrees to a test session, with an extremely cynical Neil in tow. When she sees her parallel self, the initial feelings of anxiety soon give way to a crippling desire (and lust) to know more. Eventually, Neil agrees to peer into the unknown, and as his temptation grows the strains in the relationship begin to weigh heavily on them both with unexpected results. The ability to view the negative to a positive is an ability not to be taken lightly.

 

Using a clever premise and decent characters, Parallel offers a solid independent movie. In other movies, the idea of falling into an alternate dimension would bring swathes of purple and pink clouds, crackles of lightning and other naff effects – not here though as the filmmakers decide for a more effective and less jarring switch to black and white. In the parallel, everything is cleverly inversed – the white wine becomes red, clothes switch colours and the parallel partners’ hair changes between dark and blonde, and its touches like this that go a long way to crafting interesting stories. The mirrorverse is a delightfully shady world – everything is as it is in the real world, except for the ‘client’ – fantasies run wild, desires are fulfilled and the murkier elements of your psyche are exposed.

 

The lead triumvirate are all well cast and deliver fine performances. Faye Sewell is adept at flitting between her two personalities, carrying the desired sincerity and deviousness that her character required. Magowan is plausible as the cynic Neil, his reactions to the events present genuine responses and his dark side is portrayed with a surreptitious smile. Brian Carter portrays Machlis with an unnerving earnestness and ensures the viewer harbours just enough doubt towards his honesty throughout. Also, Daniel Westwood delivers with the mysterious Roy, full of Irish charm, darkness and intrigue. All round good performances.

 

There are issues with mixing throughout the movie as the dialogue fades in and out, and the music is at times too loud for the characters to be heard, but these are issues that can be rectified in future and aside from a couple of musical blasts don’t pose too much of an issue. At moments during the film, the actors’ wires can be seen protruding from their clothing but again, nothing that affects the narrative. The movie makes good use of its London locations and there is some proficient camerawork on show, especially in the parallel as the cast get down with their dark sides (and some shaky work present also).

 

Any movie that can successfully reference the Diet Coke man is a winner.

 

Clocking in at a cool 79 minutes, the movie never overstays its welcome. Parallel offers an entertaining and intriguing story that is well-acted and well-presented. Combining mystery, sex and murder, it’s a fine addition to the British independent movie scene.

August 9th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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