Acts of Godfrey – Film Review

It’s not every day I receive an invite to a private film screening.  It’s not every day I become part of the privileged few who are lucky enough to see a brand new independent film, made by a first time director, featuring actors of the calibre of Simon Callow, Harry Enfield and Celia Imrie. Considering myself to be an intelligent person, I hasty RSVP’d.  I’m so glad I did.

Acts of Godfrey is by far the cleverest, funniest, yet thought provoking indie film of the year and certainly the best British indie movie I have seen in a very long time. Most films of this genre tend fall into 2 categories; they either fool the audience into a false sense of eliteism, or they patronise the audience, because they failed to discover the ‘hidden meaning’.

Acts of Godfrey (trailer) from johnnydaukes on Vimeo.

Acts of Godfrey, thankfully creates a new category of it’s own. It’s an independent film that explores many themes, without the viewer needing a PhD in film studies.  It’s clever, without being portentous or condescending. It’s witty, without stooping to cheap laughs. It’s thought provoking, without making you want to throw bricks through the windows of the nearest branch of RBS.

Writer and director Johnny Daukes

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Directed by Johnny Daukes, the film shows an intelligence rarely seen in independent film, without forcing it down your throat. Written in rhyming verse, you would be forgiven for assuming the script to become a major distraction. Yet surprising 2 minutes in you almost forget, partly due to how brilliantly the script is written and the how the pace naturally progresses, and partly due to the superb acting from the gifted cast. The film is a described as a “treacly black examination of ethics, love and the nature of free will”. It also briefly touches on cultural issues, but does so without relying on tired offensive stereotypes.  For instance the vulnerable little old widow has an active sex life.  The Black man doesn’t hail from Jamaica brandishing guns and drugs and tastefully wears his trousers around his waist not half way down his bottom. The Asian lady isn’t portrayed as a high flying doctor or oppressed wife and mother. The effect helps to gently persuade the audience to listen to what the characters actually have to say.

When I asked Daukes how on earth does a film written entirely in rhyming verse comes about, he explained that it initially started as a poem.  He also said how he found writing a film script in verse ‘easier’ than others might expect.  The word genius is often thrown around in all too casual manner.  Thus to refer to Daukes as a genius would risk highly insulting him – anyone who can write a script like that is far better than any genius. To boot, he also stars in the film and wrote most of the soundtrack.

Simon Callow

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Harry Enfield

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Nominated for Best British Film at the Raindance festival, it will be difficult to see how Acts of Godfrey can possibility be beaten.

Verdict – Go and watch this film, tell your friends to watch this film, then watch out for the name Johnny Daukes.  He is going to be huge!

Celia Imrie

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Iain Robertson

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Michael Wildman

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Rating 4.5 out of 5


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