The Low Down
Aidan Gillen’s got bedroom eyes and a prowling sidewalk strut, both of which the tautly assembled English actor employed to riveting effect as an egotistical gay lothario in the original British TV production of Queer as Folk. But playing a straight slacker named Frank in the loosely strung British indie coming-of-age film The Low Down, Gillen can’t make good on his gaze’s search-and-destroy capabilities. Frank’s intense stare unnerves his friends and Ruby (Kate Ashfield), the spiky-haired young woman with whom he begins a conflicted romance and unsynchronized sexual relationship. But the central character of this first feature by short-film and video director Jamie Thraves is otherwise a blur of passivity in a self-consciously ”improvisatory” mood collage that invokes Jean-Luc Godard and John Cassavetes as cinematic inspirations, then settles for freeze-frames and other directorial tics.
There’s no telling what Frank’s facial expressions signify, or what he wants in a career, a girlfriend, or a home. (Ruby works behind the desk at a real estate agent’s office into which Frank ambles, considering a move from his current jumbled, student-y rented flat.) All we know is that Frank and his friends (meant to be in their late 20s, most played by actors with creases suggesting life after 30) live a fringy London life defined by sleeping a lot, downing beers, and working at a shop where they build oversize props for TV game shows. The profession is as distractingly offbeat as the film’s visual style.