Cast your mind back three years and you might faintly recall a minor fervour amongst more academic film writers about the rise of the “post-plot” blockbuster. Utter nonsense, I grant you, but funnier when you consider that independent films have cast off conventional plotting for decades now with no one batting an eyelid. And its into this well-established segment of the indie market that actor Harry Michell makes his feature screenwriting and directorial debut with the delightful sharp male identity crisis dramedy, Chubby Funny.
Michell plays struggling twenty-something actor Oscar, who struggle to land a role of substance is constantly thwarted by his being seen as (you guessed it) “chubby funny” and relegated to comic relief sidekick parts. As he attempts to accept his professional lot in life, Oscar must also contend with the increasing success of flatmate and best friend – as well as fellow actor – Charlie (Augustus Prew), whose newfound discovery of his sexuality also opens a rift between them.
Effortlessly straddling the line between laugh-out loud funny and staggeringly poignant, there’s a revelling in the ennui to Michell’s debut that feels both brave and assuredly confident. It helps that he’s a very able performer, sharing utterly investible chemistry with the always reliable Prew and forming a solid support base for himself with a supporting cast that includes more veteran performers such as Alice Lowe, Jeff Rawle, and David Bamber.
Like a triumphant British spin on the loft-based New York indie flicks of the early nineties, Chubby Funny succeeds largely through restrained arthouse direction and concise character-based writing. Go in cold and you may well find yourself lost in the search for a straight plot, but you’ll stick around for a charming time getting to know Oscar and to see just how he might turn his downbeaten lot around, though an aversion to cliché on Michell’s part will ensure even that never quite goes how you’d expect. Earnest, sincere, hilarious; Chubby Funny’s an apt title for a film that offers as big a heart as it does so many laughs.
Chubby Funny is in cinemas nationwide from Friday, June 30th; rated TBC. Check out the trailer below.