by Colin Lomas
Given the relentless media attention of exuberant house price hikes in London, it’s surprising that more film-makers haven’t grasped the opportunity to gain leverage of the phenomenon on the big screen. Ken Loach and Shane Meadows can always be relied upon to give us reports from the downtrodden, but what about the high-fliers? Bret Eastern Ellis has forged an entire career serving up tales of the murderous, drug-crazed nouveau-riche across the pond but what about here in dear old Blighty?
Relatively new director Max McGill introduces us to Melody Munro (Buring), a corporate spy, who uses her sexuality to con middle-aged businessman into giving over their most precious company secrets. Living in a £2000 a week loft apartment in London, she enjoys the high-life with her eccentric concept chef boyfriend Harmony. When her employers discover her vast expenses are being paid to the local drug dealer, she is fired and suddenly must come to terms with her lack of income and huge debts. Foremost in her mind is the ability to keep her flat at all costs, driving her to make increasingly bizarre plans to keep the estate agent at bay.
There are nods to Nathan Barley’s genius precog capital gentrification in both the starry-eyed characters and their ability to make a tidy sum from tangibly senseless modern agencies. Edgar Wright is also an influence with snippets of sharp dialogue and quick-cut takes reminiscent of Spaced. That sounds positive yet this is Hot Property’s main problem, it constantly feels like a sketch show or sit-com. As Munro becomes more desperate, her plans to keep her flat become more ridiculous and takes the plot from a light hearted stylised Neon Demon quickly into the realms of a Guardian loving Mitchell and Webb piece. Alex Ferns does add some humour as the South African obsessive career estate agent J.P De Cock (yes, yes), but even he hastily starts to grate. McGill half-heartedly throws in some emotional resonance with accounts of the fate of Melody’s parents and her relationship with her city trader brother Sam (Phillips), but it feels half-arsed and ultimately meaningless.
Hot Property tries hard and, to be fair, on occasion succeeds, particularly early on. It’s just a shame the initial hit of sharp dialogue slumps as the film progresses, and with the plot becoming increasingly ludicrous as it approaches its disappointing finale. It’s running time is short and the comedy in places is worthwhile, but it’s too clunky to really bond and has too many long periods of dullness to engage. Patrick Bateman would probably take it down with a quick chainsaw dropped through the stairwell.
Dir: Max McGill
Scr: Max McGill, Andrew Cryan
Cast: MyAnna Buring, Tom Rhys Harries, Alex Ferns, Kate Bracken, Sam Phillips
Prd: Campbell Beaton, Tiernan Hanby
DOP: Mattias Nyberg
Music: Steve Jones, Tim Young
Run Time: 83 Minutes
Hot Property is screening across Vue, Picturehouse and Odeon cinema groups from August 1st, with tickets available now from www.ourscreen.com