Adrian Shergold (director)
20 July 2020 (released)
18 July 2020
Two things will resound from One Way to Denmark: A remarkable performance from Rafe Spall, and that the deep flaws in British society that go back far longer and are more rooted that some may would like to think, or care about.
Herb (Rafe Spall) is out of work living off jobs he can get making the best of his talent for fixing what seems like anything electrical. He’s humiliated by DWP staff and this negative hand to mouth existence and pressure is compounded even in his own home where he is continuously blasted by music from his upstairs neighbour. He’s well known around the welsh small town by the locals but that doesn’t prevent him from being mugged for nothing much other than some shoes that he bought in a charity shop.
His personal life is a mess, divorced and with a son who just doesn’t care about him. There’s his mother but that too is a dysfunctional relationship so he’s left of reminisce with friends and go down the pub. That is until he sees a report on TV about the luxury of Danish prisons and their perks which are five-star luxury compared to what he has.
It’s a lightbulb moment and hitching a ride then smuggled aboard a ship to Denmark he sets out to get himself in prison. Landing in a Danish port town he finds himself cheap digs and then off to the bar where he meets the locals, sings a song and get acquainted with Mathilda (Simone Lykke) he also gets adopted by a dog.
It’s his friendship with Mathilda and her daughter that weighs heavily on him and what could have been with his son. So much so that his initial idea and ambition are now skewed towards getting home. Here too though ill-thought out and desperate he very nearly gets what he initially sought.
There are good performances all round with Lykke developing more of a rounded character than may have been initially expected. But Spall is the lynchpin of the film with a brilliant performance of a complicated character who, despite having an obvious highly desirable talent, hasn’t had the breaks and been virtually passed by life. The pressure is relentless at almost every point and writer Jeff Murphy has crafted a script that while trying to sweeten the story with light humour, leaves no doubt about what appears to be a relentless breakdown in social cohesion, resulting poverty and poor mental health.
There’s a predictability about the set ups and the situations that may phase some and while at its core it is quite gloomy, there is a palpable glint of light for Herb which makes it very watchable. Director Adrian Shergold paces it well giving the actors plenty of room to work with the script and locations.
One Way to Denmark will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin, Google, Rakuten from 20 July.