Mark Cunliffe 🌹 Vote Labour 🌹’s review published on Letterboxd:
Remember Katie Jarvis, that young talented find who burst onto our screens in Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank? Katie Jarvis the BIFA award winner who turned her back on the chance to play Rey in Star Wars? Well she's back here in Two Graves, the directorial debut of Harry Brown writer Gary Young.
Except you really wouldn't think that this squawking, unconvincing harridan was the same Katie Jarvis. I'd argue that it's not really her fault that she appears so irritating and so downright wooden here and that the real problem actually lies with terribly cliched and coarse script that affords her character dialogue gems such as "'e didn't talk abaht 'is mum while 'e wuz fackin' me" and "The only fing 'e wuz studyin' wuz my pussy" and the appallingly flat direction that makes the average episode of Doctors look like a Kubrick masterpiece, but I've subsequently learned that Jarvis has recently taken a role in EastEnders, so perhaps that's about her level these days. A real shame.
Her co-star is Cathy Tyson,arguably another example of the British film industry failing to capitalise on the potential of some of its impressive young performers. Way back in 1986, Tyson set the screen alight in Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa - no mean feat when you consider her co-stars were such acting heavyweights as Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine - and earned herself a Bafta and Golden Globe nomination. Tyson followed Mona Lisa up in 1988 with a role in Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow, her only Hollywood movie and indeed arguably her only other big film. With the film industry offering fewer opportunities, Tyson turned to television instead and secured a memorable role of a prostitute in the Kay Mellor series Band of Gold, proving at least that she was unconcerned by typecasting.
Also in the cast is Dave Johns, another BIFA winner for his role in Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake. Johns was a long established stand up comedian, bit-part actor and stage dramatist before Loach came a-calling and changed his life. So far, he has failed to find a vehicle that matches the strength of I, Daniel Blake, but at least he's working regularly in the movies.
If you're wondering why I'm focusing on the cast over the plot that's because the cast is the only thing interesting about Two Graves. The cast - including the great David Hayman as an old-school villain - would lead you to believe that Two Graves is worth watching. It really, truly isn't. Two Graves is the kind of movie written by someone who thinks that people (specifically the working classes) really speak like they do in EastEnders, then proceeds to fill up any pauses with swearwords because this is a film rather than a primetime BBC soap. Strangely though the violence is rather restrained and neutered, showing - in the main - the after-effects rather than the actual act itself. It's still a grubby and dirty, insulting and wholly demeaning affair though. By the time Hayman beats up Vas Blackwood, gloating that "We 'ad a vote in this country to send the likes of you back to wherever you came from", my stomach turned. Once the inevitable plot twist lumbered over the horizon I'd thrown in the towel. I couldn't finish this dreck. It ought to be buried.