A Film With Me In It doesn’t actually have me in it, despite being filmed entirely around the corner from me. I must have been away that week, I’m sure I would have noticed. Back in the nineties Mark Doherty, who stars in and also wrote the flick, used to sit on the armchair with Barry Murphy in Couched, which was actually pretty funny for something that came out of Montrose. Doherty’s character, also called Mark, is an out of work actor, and a bit of a loser, who lives in a basement flat that’s falling to pieces with his girlfriend and paraplegic brother. His girlfriend is the omnipresent Amy Hubermann, and we are supposed to believe that this beautiful young woman would be living in this kind of squalor with Mark, who looks old enough to be her granddad. She clearly has this revelation too, and decides enough is enough, packs her bags and leaves. Things couldn’t get much worse for Mark, could they? Oh yes they could, and do, and a series of unfortunate accidents leaves a couple of people dead. At this point Mark’s BFF Pierce, played by Dylan Moran, gasps “this is farce!”, and he’s right, but once he’s said it, it’s out there, and we don’t have to worry about questioning the authenticity of such a run of poor luck any more. Phew.
Seeing as Pierce is a director and writer, it falls on him to concoct a way out of this mess for them, but people keep knocking on the door and accidents keep happening and the bodies accrue. The ongoing exposition is the Film With Me In It trick, whereby the pals imagine that they are making this unbelievable sequence of events into a much more palatable screenplay that will satisfy an audience’s desire to have their disbelief suspended, and thus convince the authorities. We the audience are in on the gag. The gag being that it’s a daft premise, and it knows it is, and the real pay off is the goofy, droll chemistry between the two leads. Moran’s muted mania and slurred cynicism is the only trick he has, so I suppose, if you cast him, that’s clearly what you’re after. I’d like to see him play someone who wasn’t a perfidious alcoholic deadbeat misanthrope with delusions of grandeur, just once. Doherty is also pretty comfortable in his semi-comatose sonority, ambling amiably from one disaster to next, seeming to get over the unfortunate demise of those around with of a narcissistic passiveness. Between the two of them, there’s not a lot of “acting” going on.
It’s pretty funny, if not punch yourself in crotch hilarious, but then, I don’t think that’s ever the point. If it tried to go for the big gags, it would miss, and fail, but the sauntering pace of the film never needs to call upon the uber-jape, and it’s better for it. With the self referential dénouement and title, the film certainly thinks it’s pretty clever, and it’s given itself an suit of armour against criticism with the fact that it is a farce, and no, it couldn’t really happen, which makes it a welcome break from worrying about a zombie apocalypse which, as you already know, is definitely going to happen.