Christopher Dane, Lee Boardman, Eva Pope, Jessica Blake, Sara Whitham
Phil Hawkins (Original Idea), Aidan Magrath
Stone Cross Films
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|| "Being Sold" Review
How much are you worth?
Winner of Best Film and Best Actor prizes at the 2011 London Independent Film Festival, Phil Hawkins' Being Sold is the story of John Foster (Christopher Dane). Foster is a loyal husband, devoted father and loving son. He's also for sale to the highest bidder.
An insightful and frequently hilarious social commentary meets family comedy-drama, Being Sold was filmed in just two days in South Manchester (U.K.) and, true to its improvisational spirit, Being Sold is being incredibly creative even as it hits distribution. A portion of the film's profits will benefit Amnesty International, while the film's innovative producing team has even set up an affiliate program for online marketing of the film (see above).
All the innovation in the world, however, is worthless if the film doesn't actually work.
Rest easy. It works.
While the American taste in comedy can run decidedly non-intellectual, those who embrace British comedy or comedy with a higher purpose are likely to enjoy Being Sold.
After John Foster finds himself facing redundancy (aka, his work position is no longer required), the home life becomes more stressful. After an evening of fighting with his wife (Eva Pope) and getting blitzed with his best friend (Lee Boardman), Foster places himself for sale on an online auction site. A seemingly simple and silly gesture, Foster even places a reserve on the sale that he's sure will never be met, John's auction listing catches the attention of a publicity-seeking news reporter named Maia Long (Jessica Blake) looking for a story that will speed up her career. Maia broadcasts John's story the world and, suddenly, everyone is asking "How much is a human life worth?"
Filled to the brim with a host of British household names, Being Sold starts off a tad slow before speeding up quickly thanks to the wonderful performance of Christopher Dane (Zomblies) that nicely blends the film's intelligent drama with its natural humor. Eva Pope (Waterloo Road) is terrific, especially after Maia begins to turn the family's life upside down. Jessica Blake (The Butterfly Tattoo) is appropriately ambitious with a gleam in her eye as Maia.
Being Sold also includes a wealth of bit players and cameos who will be easily recognized by those familiar with British television and film including Gordon Burns, Dan Morgan, Lesley Joseph, Terry Christian, Roy Walker and a host of others. You'll even chuckle as the occasional line feels familiar, an added novelty that works well without distracting from the story itself.
Despite a bit of a slow start, Aidan Magrath's script is solid throughout, while D.P. Michael Costelloe's lensing is top notch. It should be noted that the film was made well before the recent controversy around Weekly World News and the News Corp. world, so while much of the story feels timely and relevant it's mostly a case of absolutely delightful timing.
Being Sold is available for viewing above, and the preview will likely give you an idea as to whether or not it's a film for you. While it occasionally gives off a bit of a TV vibe, it's not exactly a bad thing to give off a BBC vibe. Being Sold never actually feels like it's a two day film, but instead feels like an intelligently written and well acted comedy/drama that was planned out beautifully and brought to life with incredibly satisfying results.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic