What happens when you get an all-star, stella, mostly British cast and pair them with a first time writer (other than some shorts) and a fairly new director (except for a short-film)? Well, you get Burn Burn Burn, a black comedy-drama-road trip movie.
Burn Burn Burn sees two friends; Seph, played by Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Alex, played Chloe Pirrie (War and Peace, Shell), who at the behest of their recently deceased friend Dan, Jack Farthing (The Riot Club, Poldark), go on a road-trip across the UK to scatter his ashes at various locations. At each location they have a video from Dan which brings home some truths and a road trip turns into a journey of discovery for the two women.
Charlie Covell (better known as an actress for Marcella, A Fantastic Fear of Everything) wrote the screenplay whilst Chanya Button (Fire (Short), Frog Robot (Short)) is behind the camera. The film is wonderfully directed, Button does a great job conveying the emotion when it’s required and allowing the black-comedy to flow at the right times. Perhaps a touch more of the English scenery could have been shown but that’s being very, very picky (unnecessarily so!).
Covell does well with the writing, very well. The film is very moving, funny at the right times, sad, thoughtful and all in between. There’s a time when you think the girls have gone through all their going to go through and then up pops Alison Steadman (Shirley Valentine, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) in a fabulously moving section that has you welling up all over again. It is, arguably, a little too much of a coincidence but Steadman, Carmichael and Pirrie, do such a great job with the scene that it’s easy to forgive.
There’s fabulous performances from the likes of Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Miranda) as Seph’s employer, a Skype psychiatrist, Nigel Planer (The Young Ones, Brazil) as Dan’s father, Julian Rhind-Tutt (Tomb Raider, Rush) as a hippy and Alice Lowe (Sightseers, Hot Fuzz) as a tour guide. All do brilliantly in the small roles they have and support Carmichael and Pirrie wonderfully.
Burn Burn Burn, is a confident and assured writing and directorial feature-film debut. It’s not without its flaws mind. Dan’s character isn’t that likeable. I’m not sure he’s meant to be but I think by the end you are supposed to feel sorry for him, I didn’t personally. It would be quite easy to see Seph and Alex as middle-class ‘isn’t our life awful, when it’s not really’ types. This could make for hard viewing, but even if you didn’t they are two quite difficult characters to ‘like’ or, perhaps a better way to say it is, they are two quite difficult characters to empathise with.