Best Laid Plans Review

Much as Hollywood would have us believe differently, most friends don’t really spend their days dancing around in water fountains and serenading each other with odes of their mutually platonic affection.

This carefree scenario is even more unlikely if you’re a small time crook with a serious coke habit and a nigh on seven foot tall man-child as your only noted companion, both in terms of numbers and basic theatrical aptitude.

Best Laid Plans stars Stephen Graham as Danny, a lonely and frustrated man who’s felt a little short of luck his entire life.

But when Danny’s assigned as the mentally handicapped Joseph’s permanent carer, who has the reasoning and thought process of a young child, fate finally seems to have dealt him a good hand.

These two unlikely companions spend their days fishing the local rivers of Nottingham, drinking beer and finding innovative ways of making money.

And it’s through one of these failed innovations that Danny and Joseph are introduced to the shady world of bare knuckle boxing.

Needing to raise some quick money to pay off a local gangster, Danny swiftly latches on to how he can utilise Joseph’s immense strength in the ring for his own financial gain.

But as these two delve deeper into, ahem, Nottingham’s dangerous criminal underworld, Danny and Joseph discover that they may be the ones trapped in a vicious circle with no clear exit strategy.

Best Laid Plans is yet another fine example of the increasingly fruitful produce independent British cinema can yield.

Director Danny Blair has crafted a moving tribute to fraternity, exploring the lengths a man will extend to maintain this bond with his fellow man, as well as what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve a better life in the most dire of circumstances.

As the story evolves, so does the inner conflict of Joseph’s struggle to cope with the situation his carer has placed him in. This is mirrored by Danny’s feelings of guilt for allowing his only real friend to risk his mental and physical health for money.

I found the portrayal of Joseph, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, to be a little annoying at times, as his disability is represented in such stereotypical fashion.

But once I realised that there are probably people who exhibit this same behaviour, my annoyance gave way to distress.

The grittily authentic environments and dialogue, both verbal and physical, make you feel as though you’re living and breathing the same Nottingham air as these characters inhabit.

Best Laid Plans also illustrates the daily struggle of disabled people and their carers, which has in turn given me a new found respect for both and made me ever conscious of the words I use to describe someone with a mental handicap.

Except for my younger brother, who I reserve the right to call mentally deficient until the day he stops living his life through call of duty and dating his best friend’s ex.

Kareem Ghezawi

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2012