Dir: Amit Gupta
Sex Tape and the City
You’ll be familiar with the traditional rom-com set-up. You know the one: Boy seeks girl. Boy meets girl. Boy has to explain that a sex tape from his previous relationship went viral, wrecking his career and bringing him instant notoriety…
Amit Gupta’s third feature injects contemporary freshness into the conventions of the romantic comedy, and sends its own cinematic valentine to the enduring visual allure of London. In fact, ‘London Town’ is the name of the fictional TV soap that introduced actor Jay (Ray Panthaki) to celebrity. He used to welcome being stopped in the street with requests for a selfie. But then he did One Crazy Thing; film himself and his girlfriend in the throes of passion. To the strains of Omar’s 90s pop-soul classic ‘There’s Nothing Like This’.
When their relationship went south of the river, his ex vengefully posted the X-rated mini-masterpiece online. He’s lost his soaperstar status, and cast shame on his family. He’s still recognised in the street of course, but for entirely the wrong kind of ‘exposure’. Out of work, out of luck, he’s trying to find the role that’ll restore his credibility. And then he meets Hannah. An American student who hates the Internet’s privacy-destroying ways, she’s clueless to his infamy. But once he realises he’d love things to get serious, just how des he ‘fess up his dirty little secret?
Despite the potential weight of such timely topics as revenge porn and public shaming, the breezy and gentle One Crazy Thing is a thoroughly sweet movie. Its success rests largely on the shoulders of Panthaki, whose company we’re in for most of the runtime. Witty, self-deprecating, emotionally resonant, he proves an exceptionally likeable lead. Daisy Bevan deftly plays the wide-eyed stranger in town with light-hearted innocence. They interact with heartening chemistry, and are supported by a strong cast. The versatile Dan ‘Angelos Epithemiou’ Skinner puts in a great turn as foul-mouthed Welsh lad Charlie, Jay’s best mate. He crassly shoots down his friend’s thespian self-absorption, while David Bamber enjoyably tuts and frets his way through the frustrations of the theatrical agent.
But the third personality in the central love triangle is London itself, as inviting and iconic as ever in some beautifully shot frames: the South Bank at dusk, the squares and walkways of Fitzrovia and Soho. We linger in a guitar shop in Denmark Street, once the musical heart of the city, now under constant threat of the property developers’ bulldozer. We may not be able to do such a romantic thing for too much longer.
You’ll pick up flirtations with the films of Richard Curtis and Gurinder Chadha in this endearing tale of the pitfalls of modern matchmaking, and the impact of relating in the digital age. But with its effervescent and wry tone, it refreshingly makes light of the challenges brought by the transparency of the online future. With this overriding positive outlook, One Crazy Thing is an affectionate photo-romance, well suited to our times.
★ ★ ★