To British naturalism what Road Rap is to Grime, Dominic Savage’s debut Fear comes from a place of dark intent, buckling pavements and pushing you up against a door before demanding your phone in a calm tremulous voice. Set in the spacey twinkling ether of the contemporary city, two very different families are brought together through bare economics, and what transpires is a spare, attenuated and sophisticatedly alienated piece of drama which generates the heat of social antagonisms and has you rollin’ with shit you didn’t want to see.
From the director’s chair Savage beautifully renders the casual matter of fact autism of a wealthy city couple on the verge of parenthood and reception of a massive bonus. Louise Delamere makes good headway of a slightly awkward part, trying to image what it would be like for Mammon to transform their lives and that of their unborn child, and the slight ethical burn of privilege. Ed Clarke’s excellently-pitched queasy ambient music contains all the promise and emptiness of the luxury apartment filled with a sense of borrowed worth, while the sleek looming perspex floor makes clever associations between the expensive underlighting of the City bar with the promo video underpass.
The sense of social space is beautifully handled, and enabled by Savage’s careful dialogue and lightness of phrase, the cast deliver all the tautness of their respective milieu’s mannerisms in order to transform what is believable to what is to be understood: Rupert Evans’ banker is a particularly fine and pressing piece of heightened naturalism. On the flipside of a purposeful economic determinism, Kieran is a kid not quite manning-up to his responsibilities, trying to be a good boy for his mother his ruthless ambition leads to an entrepreneurial life of street jacking.
If there are slightly worn patches of underwriting, this also gathers into tremendous clarity. A superb scene has Kieran (ferociously, snarlingly superlative performance by Aymen Hamdouchi) wheeling the round, from under his hoodie barking out the hatred and truth of a class that has no relationship to him other than exploitation. If something like Pritch and Trim’s “there’s a name for people like me” can play with stereotypes in a sly way, Fear has them scoured of playfulness, a vicious trading of necessary logical reduction.
Fear finds a profound truth about contemporary living. The distance between the most distant social groups is only closed in the roughness of economic violence. And yet after doing so much to construct these two classes so delicately holding them in tension, the denouement delivers a hardened piece of sentimentality. The socio-economics are dissolved in a broth of biology and parenthood. A fundamental of reproduction replaces the lightness with awkward weight, and in trying to redeem Kieran we are given a route out of violence that although dislocated is too simplistic, an easily digestible luxury – the oyster in a fine piece of grit.