(Jamie Thraves, 2010)
Driven by a terrific performance from Aidan Gillen as a jobless eccentric in anonymous South East London, Treacle Jr. treads that tricky fine line between comedy and Drama with considerable aplomb.
It begins as a dark little drama as we see a thirtysomething man leave his wife and baby in a suburban semi detached and begin a commute. Only he is escaping, not commuting, leaving his life in Birmingham behind for the anonymity of London, where he shreds his credit cards, throws his iPhone into a pond and even discards his wallet, containing a picture of his family (he returns for it moments later). Then he settles down to sleep on the street, an instant tramp.
Soon, after incurring an injury while escaping a gang of youths intent on beating him up - presuming him a cruising homosexual - on a nocturnal common, he meets Gillen's talkative, amiable oddball and spends much of the first half of the film trying to escape his company. But a tentative link develops and all is complicated by the arrival of Gillen's "girlfriend", an abusive prostitute keen to exploit any weakness.
Thraves is skilled enough to find beauty in the bleak banality of his locations and he brings out the warmth and humour of the interactions between these people. Gillen is crucial; funny, touching and complex, he never sentimentalises his character, and refreshingly goes for cheap laughs on a few occasions. Tom Fisher gives a quieter, more interior performance, but the contrast between them is really what makes the film work.
And work it does. It is undeniably slight and a little overlong, but it's an enjoyable, even a little moving film, and evidence that Thraves still has the potential to make a great film one day.