Will Jewell (director)
23 November 2020 (released)
19 November 2020
A team of builders have been contracted by ex-army Simon (Kevin Guthrie) to do some major work on a large house in rural Wales. He’s with his fiancé Amy (Amber Rose Revah) though we first encounter him training with his financial adviser Richard (James Lance). He’s under pressure with the house’s renovations, and has financial problems.
The team assemble and it doesn’t a take long for the niggling to start: in particular Scotsman Jim (Chris Reilly) digging into Ukrainian Viktor (Goran Bogdan). The team is led Bob (Steve Speirs) joined by Welshman David (William Thomas) and Bob’s nephew Steve (Charley Palmer Rothwell).
The site is remote, they are there for three months, with no Wi-Fi and staying in a couple of dilapidated portacabins: they are not happy. The mood is compounded when Simon introduces himself with a superior lord-of-the-manor attitude barking out the rules.
It’s a bad start that he tries to mend with a bottle of good wine but ends up humiliated over a game of cards. This unites the team in scorn but it’s a brief interlude of unity as they are soon squabbling again.
A couple of building montages takes the film forward and inevitably the matter of money. Bob needs money to continue but more pressing is that they haven’t been paid and nerves are fraying. Leverage and blackmail keep the team together until Bob and Jim overhear Simon’s conversation. Things now take an inevitable turn with the builders taking matters, hammers and nail-guns into their hands.
The title Concrete Plans is a bit of fun at our and the characters expense, and something of a misnomer which becomes clear over the course of the film. The film from the opening smoothly finds its rhythm, with beats that will very familiar leading to a degree of predictability. Such as the team splintering, which gives the viewer the opportunity to predict (hope) who is going to come a cropper. The violence is perfunctory but suits the tone of the film which is for the most part pretty grimy but then we are on a building site with some gritty largely unpleasant people.
The cast are fine playing fairly stock characters some of whom had backstories that maybe could have been fleshed out a little more by writer/director Will Jewell. And while there’s references to social standing, racism and class, its light.
Jewell does try to elicit some empathy for a few of the characters but their actions and decisions condemn them and as the story plays out and develops whatever goodwill I had for any of them ebbed away. Nevertheless this is a promising feature debut from Jewell who has a solid grasp of the visuals with an eye for the raw, landscapes and the more intimate and intense scenes when the team are falling out and apart in the portacabin.
Concrete Plans had its world premiere at FrightFest in October and will be available on digital platforms from 23 November.