And the award for lamest title of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 goes to….
uwantme2killhim? is a film based on a rather bizarre true story. Like the documentary Catfish, and pretty much every film about the internet, it concerns a relationship that develops online where everything is not as it seems.
The protagonist of the film is Mark, a popular, slightly self-obsessed teenage boy who starts getting to know Rachel, a slightly older girl who has left school.
Things start getting serious when Rachel’s abusive boyfriend finds out about the relationship, and Mark turns to Rachel’s brother, John, to help him deal with the situation.
The story as it unfolds is certainly one worth telling, with more twists and turns than even the most convoluted of Hollywood thrillers. However, this is also its main shortcoming.
Perhaps the reason for this is best illustrated by a story I remember a sitcom writer telling. She was pitching ideas for various storylines for her characters, all of which were going well. Then, she pitched an idea which had actually happened to her, full of comedy potential. Out of all her ideas, it was the latter one her colleagues in the writer room could not buy. For whatever reason, her truth was harder to believe than her fiction.
The main shortcoming of this film is that it does not fully appreciate just how unbelievable the whole tale sounds, and chooses to overplay its hand at times, when it needs to downplay the more outlandish elements of its story.
In particular, one major failing was the way the conversations between Mark, Rachel and others are dramatised. Everything is hammed up to 100. Rachel’s boyfriend shouts at the screen in a thick Scottish accent, Mark reads out everything he is typing in a really annoying way. There is no room for our own imagination here, and I do think they miss a trick in not taking us a bit further inside Mark’s mind as he has these dramatic online conversations.
Away from the online adventures, the rest of the film fares a lot better. The developing relationship between the (initially) confident Mark and shy, nervous John is well portrayed. In particular I liked the way the film did not try to censor the way they spoke about killing people in real life, detailing their methods and motives for doing so.
Also, the descent of Mark from this popular, confident figure to a much more isolated, unhinged shadow of his former self was likewise well structured and portrayed. Jamie Blackley’s performance as Mark helping to ground the film in some sort of reality.
Overall, uwantme2killhim? is an entertaining film that overplays its “Based on a True Story” hand. A shame since I feel the story itself deserved a better screen version than this.