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Michael Winterbottom remains one of the most interesting directors today, and you can bet good money on all of his projects offering something interesting. In “The Trip”, he combines a tv reality show concept of traveling from posh countryside restaurant to posh countryside restaurant for a cuisine-testing bit for a newspaper, with… several things: firstly, a deep and dark glance into the psyche of actors and comedians, then a terribly funny stand-up comedy backstage glance, an odd and sometimes irritating merge between real life and fiction by using two comedians who play heightened (or not heightened, how should I tell?) versions of themselves. All this in the very strict structural confines of a tv show that has 28 minutes per episode, and I think 7 episodes. It is like a food porn remake of Winterbottom’s own “Nine Songs”, with eating replacing the sex and driving replacing the music. Just like “Nine Songs”, it is far from perfect: the McGuffin of the food tour never really convinces, it is just a means to structure the whole thing, but it is a bit too promotional for that purpose and sometimes the kitchen and food preparation shots seem a bit cold and out of place. Maybe those are second unit shots by the Guide Michelin camera team? A very different set of emotions runs through the rest of the film. There is so much jealousy and coolness and wisdom about life, the actors are brave in accepting the limitations of their role in life, but they have the right to be sad, and it is unforgettable how sad Coogan looks when he admits that actually he has one big Nemesis, and that is Michael Sheen, and the bastard gets all these great parts that he, Coogan, could play almost as well.

Terribly funny dialogues and comedic scenes are interspersed, the joint efforts to reconstruct the way Michael Caine spoke through his career, the way Richard Gere seems to reflect upon a remark before responding, and with that slight hesitation… a killer of a scene where Coogan and Brydon get into their own form of comedic blood frenzy about the proper way to announce the battle that shall begin tomorrow at daybreak, or at nine-thirty-ish, rather…  And then they take you out of it again and give you a creepy and funny eulogy on their imaginary graves. I was thinking all the time that these two actors really had to be brave, because this script is based so well on how they are or could be that there must be some terribly truths about themselves to be found in here.

Brilliant absurd theatre. Watch the whole tv show, not just the re-edit that was released in the theatres!

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Cine-Blog on 17 Jul 2011 at 2:51 pm

    […] as the first rough sketch which through many iterations of script and casting later resulted in “The Trip”. Not two comedians but two… well… dudes…, one more the Just-back-from-Ashram type (and they […]

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