DVD Review – Diary of a Bad Lad

Bad Lad

So you’re making some kind of Nick Broomfield/Man Bites Dog documentary are you?

With this line Diary of a Bad Lad nails its colours firmly to the mast. The faux documentary follows the attempts of disgraced film lecturer Barry Lick to investigate the activities of local villain Ray Topham. Lick (played by Jonathan Williams, who also wrote the script) blunders around Blackburn asking questions with such a lack of guile and finesse that as one character puts it “It wouldn’t surprise me if (he) ended up in a coffin”.

Eventually he strikes it lucky, meeting Joanne an associate of Topham’s, who introduces him to Tommy Morghen (the eponymous bad lad). Morghen, recognising how much Lick is out of his depth, manipulates him to his own ends with inevitable consequences.

Lick and his crew are guilty of appalling naïveté at best, showing a complete lack of understanding regarding the circumstances they find themselves in. However any sympathy we may have for them is undermined by their behaviour. Lick in particular deserves to join the pantheon of “Great Cinema Shits”. A thoroughly loathsome individual, he is prepared to compromise everything to keep him movie going. At the point early on in the movie, where a junkie dies in Joanne’s house and Lick is not only prepared to move the body for her but film it all in the process, the audience realises exactly where his moral compass points to.

The film has a surfeit of black humour, as they try and work out where to take the dead body, sound engineer Birty (Paul Birtwhistle) says “F*cking let’s move, I’ve got a f*cking dead body on my lap”. Lick’s Broomfield-esque voiceover later states “I felt this had turned out rather well” and then goes back to where the body was dumped to film any possible reaction.

Morghen makes the film crew complicit in his and Topham’s business, using them as distractions for a drug smuggling deal and asking them to edit the amateur porn video a young couple have been coerced into making to pay back debt arrears. (Which in turn provides some of the funniest moments of the film).

The whole crew appear to be inured to the activities of Morghen and Topham. In the most disturbing scene of the movie, where a decision has been made to “take Joanne down a peg or two”, not only do the whole crew become complicit in Morghen’s actions but then show no sympathy, remorse or finer feeling towards Joanne. When she screams at Link his triumphant retort is “We can do anything we like – you signed a release!”

Diary of a Bad Lad is a movie made on a shoestring, the fictional characters of the cast all also performing actual jobs as crew. It was made in 2005 and for the past five years has been doing the rounds at cinemas and film festivals, while trying to get a distribution deal. Due for release on DVD on 28th June, it should now start to get the recognition it deserves. It is uncompromising and won’t be to everybody’s taste, but director Michael Booth is clearly a talent to watch out for.

Diary of a Bad Lad website
I have three copies of the DVD and a pair of tickets for the premier event on Tuesday 29th June 2010 at The Stockport Plaza, to celebrate the release of the film on DVD. The evening will commence at 7.30pm, creating an excellent opportunity to watch the film on a big screen and enjoy a Q&A with the cast and crew!

This competition has now closed, congratulations to Mary Freer and Daniel Woods

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on June 17, 2010.

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