A Night In ’97: Review

A Night In '97

It’s another chilli night in Scarborough & Whitby, as Labour Candidate Bertie Oldcross (Rodger Ringrose)and his trusted campaign manager Simon (Ryan Early) prepare for the final day of campaigning ahead of the 1997 general election.  

On their way to a celebration party, in just one moment, their lives are changed forever. What follows is an adventure into questions of conscience, morals, and what any good person can live with.  

A Night in 97 is a crime & politics thriller that seems to have been designed for the theatrical stage rather the cinema screen. Dark exteriors, monologueing galore and Shakespeareianesque speeches make it feel like I should be in a tiny theatre on the West End rather than watching it on an ipad while I devour my lunch in my small flat.

I’d argue this is both a plus and a minus point. Rodger Ringrose (The Witcher) and Ryan Early (The Crown – Radio Series) give an excellent and uncannily believable performance as a political duo doing whatever it takes to win. I particularly enjoyed the radio interview where Bertie is constantly checking with his manager that he’s said the right thing, with nodding and thumbs up-ahoy.

A Night In '97
A Night In ’97

The interviewer meanwhile seems completely numb to the fact her guests is clearly just given well prepared answers to callers with particular questions. The negative to all of this though seems to have been the settings and direction. it didn’t bring the realism and ‘suck-me-in’ factor that film productions normally do.

I did feel like these people were in front of me, but not that I was in their world, and that’s where the theatre point comes in. It was a great performance, but it came across like one.

It’s not a unique script either. While trying not to give away the plot, it follows the usual troupe of questions of conscience cinema such as A Christmas Carol or The Machinist where something they’ve done weighs on them heavily until the secrets out, or they enter a dream to learn a lesson from it. It’s nothing new. It’s simple, it’s good, but not inventive. At around 87 minutes it’s an entertaining watch, I just felt there is more to watch out there that’s better.

A Night In '97
Horace (Stephen Schreiber) & Adam Robinson (Michael Hunter)

Rodger’s performance is by far the standout part, and some credit for that must go to writer and director Sam Prudence who directs the monologue scenes, and the sweet sweet timing of facial expressions and statements. He’s hit politics on the head, the way they lie, the way they want to win and the fact it’s just a job interview for most, even if they believe they’re doing something more. For that, I applaud him.

If you’re interested in politics, labour & sweet little British crime films I’d recommend A Night in 97, but for most I’d say watch something a bit more developed like Prisoners or The Machinist

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Films, games, Godzilla and Scott Pilgrim; these are the things that Alex loves. As he tries to make use of the fact he’s always staring at a screen or in a book, you’ll hopefully be treated to some good reviews along the way (though he doesn’t promise anything).


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