Funny, touching, and exceptionally British, Black Pond is a strange little tale that mixes a flashback story with narratively adjacent cutaways, allegorical dream sequences, and staged post-event interviews to tell an unusual story. Detailing the events leading up to the Thompson families decision to bury a man in the woods nearby their house after he dies at their dinner table. A tale of odd connections, waning love, family dysfunction, and oddball comedy, Black Pond is so dry that it tends to drag even at 82 minutes, and yet overall it’s a funny, touching film to watch. The problem is really just the large stretches during which you’re not entirely sure what or where the film is driving at.

Featuring excellent performances top-to-bottom, you’ll find yourself amused at length by some of the rapid fire dialogue and uncomfortable situations, and impressed by the beauty and detail of a few unexpected dream sequences. You’ll absolutely sympathize in the end with this odd little family put in an odd little situation, the fallout from which we’re left to gather from allusions made in the talking-head interviews that drive the film.

As beautifully directed as this debut from Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe is though, one can’t help but feel the screenplay is a bit too quirky for its own good and could have converted some of the sillier stuff into meatier drama. As it is this, like so many SXSW dramedies, feels like an exceptionally well-produced TV pilot punctuated with some genuinely cinematic moments.

–Renn Brown

Black Pond Details:

Director(s): Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe

Screenwriter(s): Will Sharpe

Principal Cast: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley, Will Sharpe, Anna O’Grady, Helen Cripps

Nominated for Outstanding Debut at this year’s BAFTAs, “Black Pond” tells the story of an ordinary family who are accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table. Two-time BAFTA winner Chris Langham stars as bumbling father Tom Thompson and inimitable British comedian Simon Amstell makes his film debut as a sinister psychotherapist. Combining the quietly surreal with the beautifully mundane, Black Pond tells the hilarious and heart breaking story of how The Thompsons became known as the ‘Family of Killers’.

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