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The Crack Magazine

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Rare Beasts

Director Billie Piper

Stars: Billie Piper, Leo Bill, David Thewlis, Kerry Fox, Toby Woolf.

For her writing-directing effort Billie Piper aims high but misfires spectacularly with this shrill, barely coherent and tiring ‘anti rom com’.

She also stars as Mandy, a frazzled single mother juggling her job at a TV production company with parenting duties to her hyperactive son Larch (Woolf) as well as the messy break up of her bickering parents (Kerry Fox and David Thewlis).

We are introduced to Mandy midway into an awkward date with colleague Pete (Bill). Pete describes himself as ‘traditional’ but is just a sexist misanthrope who feels emasculated by modern women. When he insists that he and Mandy have made a connection, she heads outside to vomit.

Nevertheless, they continue to meet up, at a meal with Leo’s dysfunctional family, and at the wedding of one of Mandy’s unbearably smug friends Cressida (a cameo from Lily James), and, somehow, a relationship develops.

The picture lurches from one whacky scenario to another, presumably to convey Mandy’s chaotic mental state, with little regard for coherence or rhythm. There is the good odd moment, a sequence where the camera dizzyingly circles a taxi as Mandy gets ready to set off with her son only to remember one more thing, but the ultimate effect is exhausting.

And crucially, the picture doesn’t sell the central romance –anti or otherwise. It’s undoubtedly a vanity free performance from Piper as her character stumbles from crisis to crisis, but Mandy never really emerges as a rounded character, while Bill’s misanthropic Pete is relentlessly charmless and unpleasant.

Rare Beasts is released on 14th May

David Willoughby Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm

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