Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In the history of movie titles that I have no idea how it actually relates to the film, ‘Straightheads’ is now the new champion. I can’t begin to imagine what that stands for. Keep your head straight perhaps? Who knows. I’m sure by the time this British import makes it’s way to the USA it will have a title like ‘Sudden Extremes’ or ‘Her Darkest Hour’ or maybe ‘Cold Revenge’, but for now we’ll go ahead and roll with ‘Straightheads’ comfortable with the knowledge that the meaning of the title of this thing totally escapes me.

Adam (Danny Dyer) is installing an in-home surveillance system for the rather posh Alice (Gillian Anderson) in her upscale London apartment. Alice is a woman who comes off as powerful and in complete control. Successful, beautiful and cool to the touch, Alice has decided that she likes the young Cockney technician and invites him to her bosses country estate for a party. At the party after some perfunctory greetings Alice decides that she really likes Adam and the two disappear into the brush to get to know each other a little better.

On the way home after that little outdoors tryst, Alice passes a slow moving truck on the road while Adam, all full of piss an vigor, makes an obscene gesture towards the truck as they pass which is soon followed the pair running into a buck. While attempting to remove the buck from the road the truck catches up to them, the occupants jump out and beat Adam within an inch of his life, ultimately costing him an eye, and they brutally rape Alice.

To say that the pair are damaged from this is a bit of an understatement, but life goes on and at least they have each other now, somewhat. Alice though, while straightening up her late fathers house, spies one her victimizers and now it is on. It would seem Alice’s old man was a lifelong soldier and has a houseful of guns, guns he taught his baby girl how to use and use well. And though Adam seems comfortable just to drown his sorrows in liquor, Alice is about to serve up some revenge Ms. 45 style. Or maybe straighter heads will prevail? Is that it? Beats me.

I liked this movie. A lot. ‘Straightheads’ has pretty much everything that I look for in a crime movie. It’s short, clocking in at less than 80 minutes, it’s violent, it’s brutal, the atmosphere is cold, the performances are spot on and Gillian Anderson even goes the extra mile and shows us a little skin. This is a film that may offend your gentile senses as most of Writer / Director Dan Reed’s film exists in sudden bursts of unpleasantness. The assaults are sudden and unpleasant, the revenge is sudden and pleasant, even when the characters engage in what one think is a pleasurable sexual act, it’s largely sudden and unpleasant.

I’m of the opinion that there’s not a lot of deeper meaning here as we are introduced to a pair of characters, the types of people these characters are is made fairly clear early on, something horrific happens to these characters and they behave in a way that is consistent to what we have come to know about these characters. But even these characters don’t know, as no one could know, how they are going to respond when they finally get to the point of executing their plan. A lot of films have trouble finding a way to end, and you may find the ending to ‘Straightheads’ unsatisfying, but I found it completely plausible and in keeping with the theme Reed has established to that point. Sudden and unpleasant.

Anderson affects a British accent which you take notice of as the film starts, knowing full well that Gillian Anderson isn’t British, but soon forgets as the accent is seamless along with her performance as the cool Alice who seems to focus in whatever she desires be it her job, her lover or justice. Dyer also does a fine job as the young man stripped of his manhood and actually has a more difficult tortured path to travel than the character of Alice, though the crime against Alice is more personal, and ultimately more brutal.

If you’re looking a for a film to give you a warm fuzzy then stay as far away as you can from ‘Straightheads’ because it’s about as far from a feel good film as you can get. But if you like a well crafted, well acted brutal revenge flick that offers no easy answers then I highly recommend ‘Straightheads’. Whatever the hell that means.

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