Facts and Figures
Run time: 82 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th July 2011
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Treacle Jr. Movie Review
Tom (Fisher) leaves his wife and child and quietly takes a train to London, where he starts living on the street. His drop-out idyll is disrupted first by street thugs and then by the smiling, chatty Aidan (Gillen), who lives with his controlling "girlfriend" Linda (Steele). He makes money through odd jobs, including taking his neighbour's (Cohen) cat Treacle into cafes to scare off mice. Tom finds shaking off the clingy Aidan virtually impossible, and eventually starts to soften toward him. Although Linda is another story.
The relationship between Tom and Aidan is reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy, mainly because Gillen seems to be channelling Dustin Hoffman's Ratso with his jittering physicality and child-like persistence. The surprise is that, even though he's seriously annoying, Aidan's relentless optimism makes him likeable.
Even when Treacle dies, his grief soon turns to mischievous joy when he adopts Treacle Jr. And Fisher is terrific as a guy reluctantly coming round to see that maybe they can help each other survive.
There isn't much more to the film than this. Thraves slightly over-directs some scenes, pushing small points and straining to be wistful, sad or silly. But there are also very clever touches along the way, both from Thraves and the actors, that more than make up for this. As simple as it is, the story is charming, holding our interest by helping us to care about these two men.
There's a sense that this might not end well, and lots of hints about awful things that could happen to them, so we are gripped watching the events unfold.
That said, some of those events are ill-defined (probably deliberately) or contrived. A few things happen that make little sense. For example, where do they find Treacle Jr? It's not like kittens are roaming wild on the South Bank.
And some props seem placed for storytelling convenience, rather than internal logic. But these things fade away in the glow of Aidan's hopefulness. And even if the ending is a bit corny, his smile is infectious.