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One For The Road
cast: Rupert Procter, Gregory Chisholm, Mark Devenport, Hywel Bennett, and Julie Legrand

writer and director: Chris Cooke

94 minutes (18) 2004
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
A group of drink drivers meet on a rehabilitation course ordered by the courts. The patronising, and sometimes impenetrable, advice of the group leader goes straight over their heads; and every lunchtime and evening, they end up in the local pub. By chance, they're all businessmen - a salesman, the owner of a failing taxi firm, and Jimmy, a would-be entrepreneur whose only asset is a ruinous empty warehouse. But the fourth member of the group is different. Richard is a self-made man, a property developer with a lavish house and a treasured racehorse. If only he'd invest in their various schemes, their troubles would be over. But getting him to cough up the cash is far more difficult than they'd ever imagined...

One For The Road is hardly an easy film to watch. It's peopled entirely by the sort of characters you'd cross the road to avoid: out of control, self-deluding, and often pathetic. The sight of men wrecking their family lives and their career prospects by their drinking habits certainly isn't pleasant, but writer and director Chris Cooke wrings a certain black humour out of it all - not least when the sorry group are matched up with some teenage car thieves for a 'team-building' paintball competition. And as the film progresses and you learn their stories, you find yourself beginning to sympathise with the broken characters in a way that seemed impossible at the beginning.

Greg Chisholm, Rupert Proctor and Mark Devenport, matched with the ever reliable Hwyel Bennett, as the monstrous Richard, make the most of the sharp writing, and manage to draw us into the characters' dreams and desires despite their obvious flaws. Stick with it through the grim and visually gimmicky opening, and you'll find a perfectly crafted treasure of a film: hardly a crowd-pleaser, but a brave, compassionate, and witty story of men incapable of realising their own dreams.

DVD extras: two commentaries, several related short films, also with commentaries, a trailer, and some brief online trailers, between them providing interesting insights into the research and the real stories that contributed to the script.
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