Writer-director Jules Bishop, a beneficiary of Film London’s Microwave scheme supporting micro-budget first-time filmmakers, strives a little too hard for quirkiness in Borrowed Time, a comedy-drama about the unlikely friendship between a hapless would-be burglar and the cranky pensioner he tries to rob, but excellent playing from the two leads makes up for the film’s contrivances.
Gormless East London teenager Kevin (Theo Barklem-Biggs) has ended up in hock to small-time local crook Ninja Nigel after pawning his sister’s treasured antique clock (‘borrowed time’, geddit?). Desperate for cash, he breaks into the home of reclusive old codger Philip (Philip Davis), a lonely misanthrope happier in the company of his collection of stuffed animals than with members of his own species. Kevin’s attempted robbery is a flop, but in its aftermath the odd couple slowly and awkwardly form an unexpected bond.
As buddy movies go, Bishop’s effort is distinctly patchy, with elements of social realism colliding awkwardly with cartoonish caper comedy. The gags are often painfully strained, as when the blunderbuss-wielding Philip descends his staircase on a chairlift to surprise the prospective thief. And the supporting roles are hit and miss.
What redeems the film, though, are the disarming performances by Barklem-Biggs and Davis (playing much older than his actual age), both of them perfectly nailing characters who are peevish and hard to like, and hopelessly at odds with the world around them.
Certificate 15. Runtime 88 mins. Director Jules Bishop.