Something About You

Reviewer: Jane Darcy

Writer and Director: Alastair Coughlan

Something About You is a shortish feature written, directed and produced by Alastair Coughlan. Coughlan himself plays the film’s central character, Ed, as well as performing his own original piano score. One has to admire Coughlan’s ambition and energy and his making of a film on such an evidently small budget.

The film has some charming moments. It’s in black and white, for a start, and director of photography, Kabos Bela Alexandru captures some nicely moody shots both of London and of the Romanian town where the film’s other protagonist, Eva (Luana Maria Seu) comes from. The story telling itself – the meet cute of Ed and Eva and their repeatedly sabotaged romance, thanks to the interference of Eva’s scheming flatmate Maria (Rebeca Valean) – has a certain dynamic, and contains some pleasing twists. But almost inevitably, when the same person writes, directs and acts in their own production, there are a number of limitations. Much of the dialogue is clunky. Would Edward’s posh woman friend, on first meeting Eva, really demand to know “Is she any good?” And would Edward himself first of all have a Moldovan housekeeper, and secondly say breezily, “Mummy will send you money?” without a fuller explanation of his evidently privileged background?

There is little critical distance in the presentation of the main characters. Ed is forced to work playing piano in a bar for tips when he is really a composer. There is no background here. No music academy supporters or friends who might convince us of his ability. It seems only Eva really appreciates his talent. But it’s rather too much for the credibility of the story to depend on his suggested talent. Coughlan’s compositions are likeable enough if rather repetitive pieces which suggest their inspiration was Michael Nyman’s soundtrack for The Piano.

Maria is a shameless exploiter of men who does the dirty on Eva and Ed by leaving her t-shirts around in Edward’s flat to mark her scent. Quite why she and Eva remains friends is baffling, Eva being a thoroughly decent, hard-working young woman, if one rather given to quick changes of mood and protracted fits of sulking. Any concerns we might have that Eva is a gold-digger, however – why does she repeatedly insist it’s too boring to fill in the paperwork for a UK visa? – are allayed by a slightly improbable plot twist.

A low-budget film like this makes us appreciate the often unsung work of other professionals in the artistic world. The editing tends to be awkwardly abrupt and the sound recording is very poor. Planes are picked up as they fly over London, drowning out most of the dialogue by characters filmed sitting outside. Inside Eva and Marie’s flat, on the other hand, there is all the undesirable echo of an empty room. Lighting is poor, except when there is a spot light on Ed as he performs.

Something About You suggests there is certainly something about Coughlan which will no doubt emerge when he decides on his preferred artistic medium.

Something About You is produced by Penny Bank Productions.

Something About Coughlan

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