The Hide

 

 

Alex MacQueen is an actor who has a special place in the hearts of comedy connoisseurs for his recurring role in Armando Iannucci's TV satire The Thick of It, playing pompous No 10 policy adviser Julius Nicholson, a part which morphed into the similarly preening UN ambassador Sir Jonathan Tutt in the film version, In the Loop. Now he gives a tremendous turn - witty, and with unexpected depth - in this claustrophobic, tense, ultra-low-budget British film with a neat final twist: the story of an ordinary bloke who comes face to face with a killer. He plays the hapless Roy, a middle-aged "twitcher" or birdwatcher, who spends days on end holed up in a ramshackle wooden shed in the middle of the Suffolk mudflats - the hide of the title. Poor Roy gets nerdishly overexcited about spotting various feathered rarities, fussing over his binoculars and his packed lunch, crammed with spicy meat-paste sandwiches. He also, in the manner of lonely souls who have lived too long on their own, talks to himself, or rather to a photograph of his absent wife.

One dullish day, the door to Roy's hide opens, and he has a visitor: this is Dave, played by Phil Campbell, a very scary-looking, taciturn scouser with close-cropped hair, a tattoo snaking up his neck and a long coat, under which he is carrying a gun. At first, dysfunctional Roy doesn't quite understand who or what Dave actually is. But Dave is interested to learn from his stammering, nervy host that people can stay for long periods of time in these hides without anyone bothering them - and there is a police helicopter clattering overhead. They are destined to spend quite a bit of time in each other's company, and as they begin to relax, they discover they have more in common than they realise.

Dave's icy contempt for the silly business of birdwatching softens, as it triggers memories of his own childhood, and he is amused and even touched at Roy's naivety and vulnerability. When he discovers his full name is "Roy Tunt", Phil asks with a wintry smile if that didn't get him plenty of nicknames. "Oh yes," says Roy brightly, "Roy Rogers, Roy of the Rovers, you name it."

The director is Marek Losey, grandson of Joseph Losey. Perhaps he has inherited some of his forebear's attraction to Pinteresque material. The movie was originally a stageplay, entitled The Sociable Plover, by actor and writer Tim Whitnall, who has adapted it for the screen. Its stagey origins are, admittedly, pretty obvious. But it's refreshing to hear dialogue with such a high IQ, dialogue on a recondite subject about which the author does appear to know a good deal. This is a very promising piece of work - and Alex MacQueen could even be in line for some silverware.

bloke – facet

clatter – brzęczeć, hałasować

connoisseur – koneser

contempt – pogarda

crammed with – upchany, zapchany (czymś)

destined to: be destined to – mieć przeznaczone

dullish – nudnawy, nudziarski

forebear – powstrzymywać

fuss – robić hałas, robić zamieszanie

hapless – niefortunny

morph – zmieniać kształt

mudflats – teren przybrzeżny zalewany w czasie przypływu

nerdishly – kujonowato

nervy – nerwowy, zdenerwowany

plover – siewka (ptak)

preen – stroić się, muskać piórka

ramshackle – zdezelowany, zrujnowany

recondite – niezrozumiały, hermetyczny

recurring – powracający, pojawiający się na nowo

scouser – osoba z Liverpoolu

spot – zauważyć, dostrzec

stammer – jąkać się

taciturn – małomówny, milczący

trigger – wywoływać

twitcher – nerwus

vulnerability – bezbronność

wintry – chłodny


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