By midlandsmovies, May 26 2018 09:40AM
Martin Sharpe Is Sorry
Directed by Lee Tomes & Daley Francis
Bang Average Films (2018)
“Two Academy Award Nominations. Too many allegations...”
They take a sharp turn here with a far more multi-layered drama about sexual harassment in the media which marks a stark contrast between their previous light-hearted effort and the serious subject matter we see here.
The short begins with a man (Dean Kilbey as actor Martin Sharpe) inside a hotel room staring blankly as he hears news reports about a famous man accused of sexual misconduct.
We are quickly to assume that this coverage is about him and this is confirmed as his PR agent starts to discuss with him the various options to mitigate the issues. With the #MeToo movement raising awareness in real life, the film approaches this difficult topic head on but throws in some controversial perspectives as well.
The strangely brown colour palette mutes some of the harsher themes at play and the film takes further risks with a rather comedic performance from Helen Lewis as Jane. This was an interesting direction to take and didn’t entirely work for me but at around the half way point there is a particular shift into more a more sombre and dark tone.
As she proposes the different options to the star including a non-confirming announcement that his judgment was impaired, Martin asks, “when did everything change?” Of another time, the film asks the audience to question how modern values have shifted from more previous “acceptable” times of the past. Combined with his protestations of innocence one could even suggest the film creates a tiny amount of sympathy.
However, this is dashed immediately as it contrasts with Martin’s statement, “I used to do anything I wanted” further complicating the issue and setting the audience in opposition to his big-headed arrogance.
As they work through which PR route to take – interviews, charity donations – the aforementioned tonal change occurs when Jane raises the subject of “aggressive allegations”. Jane’s previously jovial demeanour rotates 180 degrees with her acute question, capturing Martin off guard.
Martin’s “tart’s pants” comment continues to play with the audience’s mind whereby his adamant denial conflicts with his dismissive sexism and chauvinism.
Is it defending an innocent man’s accusations with a comment on witch-hunting and principles from another time? Or is it taking a moral standpoint that with clever media and PR you can spin these genuine victim claims into gossip and hearsay?
Well, the film leaves the audience to decide somewhat and a final shot of Martin entering a lift is juxtaposed with a raft of voices spinning through his mind with more (and multiple) accusations.
Tackling difficult themes, Martin Sharpe Is Sorry is not entirely successful with an uneven tone but its script and performances will make audiences contemplate the problematic subject matter in a world of spin and soundbites. But make no mistake, you’ll be thinking about the issues it raises far beyond the confines of its short runtime.
Midlands Movies Mike
Watch the full short below: