The All Together (2007)

This British comedy from 2007 is a tricky one. If you browse through the comments on the internet, you will see that this is a film people either hate or love – there is very little in between.
Personally, I love this film, but I do recognise that it has its fair share of flaws.

The All Together
is an absurd crime comedy (with the emphasis on comedy), based on a very simple premise: a lodger (Velibor Topic) in entrusted by his landlord (Martin Freeman) with the task of answering the door when the various real estate agents come round who are interested in the house and of asking them in. The lodger more than fulfils his mission, and chaos ensues. All the while Martin Freeman’s character is suffering through another thankless day at work, having no idea what is happening back home.

As I said, the premise is simple, but good; the script is good (including the dialogue) and the characters are very well written. And the cast are great: Martin Freeman, Corey Johnson, Velibor Topic, Danny Dyer, Richard Harrington; and there are a number of great supporting performances, for example by Amanda Abbington and Charles Edwards.

There are, however, also problems with the cast and the directing. I believe that Velibor Topic was miscast and that a different actor in the role of the lodger would have given the film a more organic feel. Also, due to the plot/premise, for 90% of the film we have two (at times three) completely separate locations, where one group of actors is doing their own thing, away from the others. And at each location we have a different tone, a different shade of comedic performance creeping in. The Freeman-Harrington interaction (very strong acting, by the way) is a satire, the lodger-plot at the house is a farcical comedy. That may in part be a writing problem, but it is certainly greatly enhanced by the actors being separated from each other, unable to see/feel what the others are doing. Either way, it would have been the job of writer/director Gavin Claxton to make sure that this tonal gap does not develop into that big a problem, and he failed to do that.

Another problem is that the whole set-up has a slight TV feel to it, and has little about it that says “cinema”. Not something that bothers me much, personally, but I add it here for the sake of completeness.

All problems aside, this film is enjoyable if you like an absurdist, farcical romp with a hostage situation, a gun or two, and a great British cast. For me, Martin Freeman’s performance is the one thing that elevates this film from “enjoyable” to “highly enjoyable”.

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