I think it’s safe to say that the British film industry is peaking at the moment. Box office chasers, expensive special effects and franchisers aside, and your left with some of the best ground roots, creative and genuinely well produced, written and acted projects the tiny island has every reason to be proud of; this film can definitely count itself as part of that esteemed category.
A pairing on film I could only describe as:
… part The Odd Couple part Rainman, and part Dumb and Dumber …
Convenience tells the story of two incomprehensible young lads, A.J. and Shaan, as they find themselves in trouble with some Russian brutes and limited time to settle a debt on which their lives depend. They happen upon a convenience store and decide it’s their best bet in getting the £8,000 hanging over their heads. Unfortunately for the duo, robbing the store leaves them with pennies with the real bucks locked away in a time-locked safe; their only option is to commandeer it under the guise of trainee shop assistants and wait it out till morning. Cue a series of funny skits, poignant , if a little meagre, character developments and some strange and eccentric customers. And as if all of that wasn’t challenging enough, things go from bad to worse as the two men meet their match in the presence of stroppy shop assistant, Levi (Vicky McClure This is England).
At the core of Convenience is a genuinely funny script churned by Simon Fantauzzo, directed by Keri Collins and brought to life by starring turns of Ray Panthaki (Eastenders) and Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions). It doesn’t say anything profound or new about today’s society; it’s not here to break any cinematic boundaries aesthetically either. Having said that, what it may lack in a Hollywood budget doesn’t show on-screen. It is beautifully shot, complemented by a simple premise and brilliantly executed skits that will keep you chuckling throughout. This in part is thanks to the various customers that A.J. and Shaan come into contact with – including impressive cameos from Anthony Head (Buffy, Merlin) and Verne Troyer (Austin Powers).
With the onslaught of grim thrillers, and oft showcased, white middle-class majority in a romantic or buddy comedy, it’s nice to see a straight up silly comedy with Asian actors at the helm. Not least because Akhtar is a serious British talent and any chance to see him perform with an effortless ease to say the stupidest things, is a welcomed treat. Genius.
Convenience is consistently thrilling, consistently awkward and consistently silly. It’s flaw being that it borrows too heavily from the infamous 24 TV show digital countdown. Gradually the film finds its footing in a comfortably awkward setting – and it makes no apologies for it’s very British ridiculousness.