Director: Mitch Jenkins
Written by: Alan Moore
Starring: Tom Burke, Ellie Bamber, Darrell D’Silva, Babou Ceesay, Christopher Fairbank, Sibohan Hewlett and Alan Moore
Comics legend Alan Moore has famously had his name removed from any of the adaptations of his work. He writes for a specific medium and that doesn’t always translate to another one. There is something lost in Watchmen through Zack Snyder’s adaptation, despite how close it is to the original comic. The change to the end of V For Vendetta, doesn’t work. The less said about Batman: The Killing Joke the better. Moore took a dip into the world of films with his short films under the banner Show Pieces. Expanding upon that is the excellent and surreal feature length The Show.
Alan Moore loves Northampton, the town he’s from. If you ever watch one of his talks, either in person or online, he has an entire speech about how Northampton is the centre of the universe. He can link so many important moments in history to it and even in his massive extensive look at Jack the Ripper, From Hell, he manages to link it to Northampton (Something no one else could do). The Show gives Northampton the same love that other films have given London, Paris, New York, or Los Angeles. It’s almost a character in and of itself. When Fletcher Dennis (Tom Burke) first arrives in Northampton he describes it as a quiet nice town to the taxi driver, something most of its locals would debate. Fletcher’s house mate runs a talking tour of Northampton and gives out facts and stories of history that channels Moore’s love of his hometown.
There are a lot of strange and unique characters in the film from a hospital orderly who has a vampire name and is obsessed with death, to a singer who resembles Hitler. They are all great and memorable and the performances are really good. Moore himself appears as one half of a comedy act that died in a fire in the early 70s. For the most part he is absent and then appears in the later half in the almost Kafkaesque dream world.
The comedy in this film really works. The strange characters are really funny. A stand out moment is the private investigators that Dennis hires. They are two children, who live in a black and white world and speak in noir cliches. One of the children narrates everything that he does and how he feels and the cross that everyone is searching for is called The Maltese Cross. There’s also a librarian who helps Dennis early on the film, and spends the rest of the film at his home in an almost Batman style role.
The Show is a delightful film with whimsical comedy, quirky musical moments and some wonderful direction. The visuals in this film, especially during the dream sequences look incredible, it’s energetic. Add some of Moore’s lively dialogue and you will be hooked from the first few scenes.
If you’ve seen Shot Pieces, especially the main story Jimmy’s End, then you will be familiar with the ideas and world that is being presented. The shorts are not essential viewing and The Show stands alone as a great story in its own right. There is still the very Twin Peaks style to the dreams, but this isn’t the main focus. If you couldn’t get on with Show Pieces, then The Show is still worth giving a change. It’s so much better than the shorts and is truly a great and original film.
The Show feels like an Alan Moore comic, but on screen with some amazing direction from Mitch Jenkins. It’s funny, entertaining, a love letter to Northampton and a truly captivating story. Whether your a fan of his comics or never picked one up in your life this is a brilliant film and you will find something to enjoy. One of the best of the year. There is a proposed TV series that will follow up from this and we can only hope it’s half as good as Moore’s first feature length film.