Describing itself as a anti-rom com, Rare Beasts, Billie Piper’s directorial debut doesn’t just flatten the rom com, but it stomps all over it with a very large size muddy boot.
Rare Beasts is a dark, failed love story of Mandy and Pete. Mandy is a modern woman in a crisis. Raising a son, Larch (Toby Woolf), in the midst of a female revolution, mining the pain of her parents’ separation and professionally writing about a love that no longer exists, she falls upon a troubled man, Pete (Leo Bill), who is searching for a sense of worth, belonging and ‘restored’ male identity.
Billie Piper acquits herself well here on her debut behind the camera, but not just that, but in front of it too. However that’s where the plaudits end, because unfortunately Rare Beasts never really sets out it stall on what it is trying to achieve. Some very unpleasant dialogue coupled with continual tight pulled close ups almost making Rare Beasts seem like a talking head documentary rather than a drama with bite.
There simply is no real journey here for the viewer to follow. All of the characters are simply unlikeable to the point of the viewer, drifting off the narrative more than once. The cast are adequate (Piper aside who is brilliant), and Leo Bill as Pete bears more than a resemblance to Piper’s ex husband turned failed mayoral candidate and irrelevant right wing commentator Laurence Fox, but that’s surely just a coincidence…
Overall it’s a decent start for Piper, although Rare Beasts doesn’t quite feel fully developed, it’s a interesting jumping off point for Billie Piper and it will be interesting to see what she does next.
Rare Beasts is available to watch at selected cinemas and via direct download now