Elfie Hopkins (2012)
(15) Running time: 89 minutes
Director: Ryan Andrews
Writers: Ryan Andrews, Riyad Barmania
Starring: Jaime Winstone,KimberleyNixon, Rupert Evans, Aneurin Barnard, Ray Winstone
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I am not really sure how to go about reviewing this as I have now watched it twice to try and find something, anything worth mentioning and I simply can’t. I feel that when I do review films I at least try and give the film the benefit of the doubt, and I do my best to look past a films flaws in order to find something special about it brewing under the surface. I did not like Elfie Hopkins on first watch, and there is very little to remember about it. However, on the basis of being a good sport, I decided to try and watch it again in the hope that just maybe I missed something. I didn’t, and I could barely get through the second viewing and, to be honest, it irritated me, REALLY irritated me.
Now, I can only apologise to those involved as I don’t want to be too harsh here, but something went seriously, hideously wrong. Elfie Hopkins is played by Jaime Winstone in her first big starring role, and on the evidence of this, it could very well be her last. Now, already I feel bad because I adore her Dad, and in fact the highlight of this film is when Ray appears as a slightly mental butcher who tells a rather funny and dark story. His cameo is short, sweet and manages to lift the film from the depths are crapness, if just for a brief moment. However, the mix of Cockney and I am presuming Welsh accent’s doesn’t work, and he comes across as a sort of Sommerset lad with constipation, but it is hilarious all the same. The rest of the film is not very good at all, but I am desperately trying to convince myself that there was more to this film than what I saw.
Elfie Hopkins likens herself to some sort of detective, for no apparent reason apart from the fact she believes she found her Mother’s killer years before, when the police couldn’t. As a detective, Hopkins decides to go snooping around her new neighbours business after a party guest has an unpleasant walk home. Also, at the beginning of the film when her car breaks down in the woods, Hopkins witnesses her new neighbours driving past in their ‘must-be-criminal’ black Landover. There is absolutely no reason for this annoying, trying ever so hard to be cool, young woman to be ‘investigating’ her neighbours, the Gammons, but she does so anyway.
Her best friend is Dylan (Barnard) and because he wears glasses he is good with computers. The pair get stoned a lot, Elfie selfishly gets angry when he announces he is leaving to go to college, and yet reacts badly when he kisses her. I feel so sorry for Jaime Winstone, I really honestly do. Her career may well have been ruined by a painfully annoying character written in the worst way possible. She is supposed to be the heroine, but comes across as a really, REALLY annoying busy body who sticks her nose into other people’s business, and tries to be all cool and arty at the same time. The Gammons themselves are no better, with the actors desperately trying to come across as sinister, but instead causing the viewer to both laugh and cringe at their appalling acting skills. I don’t even want to consider any examples because I do not want any memory of this film clogging up my thoughts.
The direction is terrible: it is slow, boring and almost dreamlike (in a bad way), and the lack of any forceful music and the awful almost water based colouring give the film a sleepy, lifeless feel. I imagine that the almost silent, and at times atmospheric music was supposed to be a little different, a little ‘otherwordly’ and intelligent: it isn’t, it lacks punch and never gives the film its much needed boost. The choice of colouring I can only presume is supposed to look arty, and at the beginning I was almost convinced as shots of the gorgeous countryside were presented like it were a faded painting. Sadly, the nice touch in the faded colouring technique soon has the reverse effect, and the film looks cheap, tacky and unprofessional. The calm, slow, building pace also doesn’t work, and comes across as lazy and painfully sleep inducing. The plot of Hopkins’ neighbours possibly being cannibals becomes silly, uninspiring and desperate as the film goes on, and each and every character just becomes more and more annoying.
I hate to say but Elfie Hopkins is one of the worst films I have seen in a long while. In all fairness, had it not been for the films belief that it was actually being cool and arty, I just might have enjoyed this a bit more. Sadly, Elfie Hopkins takes itself way too seriously, tries so hard to be something is clearly isn’t, and fails miserably at pretty much everything it tries to do. A painful, irritating, waste of ninety minutes, and a shocking example of how not to impress your viewers. I doubt we will be hearing from anyone involved in this film any time soon.