Us and Them sets up an interesting thriller dynamic as three British men, angry at the ruling classes for their lifestyle compared to their own, seek to stir things up through the means of violence. Unfortunately though, the film also see-saws between trying to be this and a comedy which means it never quite focuses into a specific style and ends up giving off a mixed vibe that affects the overall balance.
Jack Roth stars as Danny, a young man who sees his country and local area turning to disarray, so him and his friends Tommy (Andrew Tiernan) and Sean (Daniel Kendrick) attempt to exact revenge by attacking the richest family in their area and filming it, with the hope it’ll somehow cause a revolution. This is, to say the least, an inventive plan and over the narrative, it helps Us and Them stand out by creating an interesting onscreen dynamic between Danny and his hostages Conrad (Tim Bentinick) and Philippa (Sophie Colquhoun). This element is important and stands out, as they all offer up strong performances that helps you connect with their characters.
Us and Them is also clever in how the story develops around Danny because he gradually realises his plan is not great and that his friends are not exactly trustworthy. This much-needed thrill factor adds to proceedings as events become more on edge as the stakes rise. Thanks to this, we see how easy it is for people to change their agendas whenever it suits them and how Tommy and Sean become corrupted by the thought of money.
While debut feature writer and director Joe Martin does deserves credit for how the film is shot and the dialogue written, there are some genuinely funny and witty lines between Conrad and Danny, most of the time you’re left a little confused over the general tone of the film. Serious situations often end up changing quickly, as if we are meant to laugh about what is happening, but that then detracts from it working well as a standalone thriller. For me, it loses any sense of tension that was built up and leaves you feeling a little robbed. With the run-time also being a speedy 83 minutes, you want as much thrill as possible rather than a mash-up of emotions.
Us and Them offers up some real thrills, and that unforgettable aforementioned intensity between Danny and his hostages, but the unbalanced nature of styles definitely impacts on what is, at its best, a highly entertaining film.
Us and Them opens in UK cinemas on 12 October and is available on VOD from 23 October.
There’s a special Q & A screening taking place with Jack Roth and Tim Bentinch next Thursday October 11 at the Mile End Genesis cinema, book tickets by clicking here!