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DVD Review by EDF

Starring: Vincent Phillips, Amanda Noar, Anthony H Wilson, The New Fads, Paul Betts,
Director: Paul Hills

During the past fifteen years, the rise of low budget movies has always garnered enough articles to fill an encyclopaedia. Sometimes, these articles have encouraged filmmakers to continue their pursuit in producing their debut movie. Strangely enough, most of these publicised movies have come from outside the UK. So where, I hear you ask, is the UK equivalent of EL MARIACHI or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT? Well, back in 1993, filmmaker Paul Hills shot a little known 16mm movie called THE FRONTLINE, which now finally gets a DVD release.

This gritty movie was filmed at the Moss Side area of Manchester and follows James (Vincent Phillips) fresh out of a mental institute. James sets out to re-kindle his relationship with ex-girlfriend and pirate DJ Marion (Amanda Noar) and true love eventually prevails but not without consequences. For the relationship to work out, James must first help Marion kick her drug addiction.

With their lives seemingly back on track, they both enjoy what life has to offer them like cycling around the countryside. Then tragedy strikes; Marion is found dead. Marion’s father believes that his daughter was killed. His suspicion proves to be correct when James gets a tip off that a politician might have had something to do with Marion’s murder. They both hatch a plan to kidnap the politician and under media frenzy, the kidnappers intend to find the truth.

THE FRONTLINE is more than a gritty movie. Paul Hills spent all he had and borrowed what he could to shoot this for £12,000. Even for all its flaws, this four-week shoot is a decent attempt. Most of the scenes use natural light, giving the movie its gritty look. The lead roles are well acted but there are some minor characters who are not convincing enough and some just ham it up. The DVD includes an interview with Paul Hills, deleted scenes and an enjoyable director’s commentary about how to make a low budget movie while living on sixty two pence a day.

3 out of 6 stars