The sulki­est sleuth in the vil­lage

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

You have to doff your cap to El­fie Hop­kins, a Bri­tish orig­i­nal and an odd mash-up of Har­riet the Spy and The Wicker Man. Jaime Win­stone, a veteran of other brave and off­beat Brit flicks (Don­key Punch, Kidult­hood), stars as the tit­u­lar ama­teur de­tec­tive. El­fie may be a grungy, dam­aged 20-some­thing, given to flights of fancy, but there’s def­i­nitely some­thing wrong with the Gam­mons, the new fam­ily in her sleepy English vil­lage.

Why does the son go around with a bow and ar­row and project what El­fie terms an “anger-filled testos­terone vibe”? Why does the daugh­ter (Gwyneth Key­worth) dress like a creepy Vic­to­rian doll? The dad (Ru­pert Evans) seems nice, but maybe a lit­tle too nice.

The rest of the lo­cals are smit­ten with the new res­i­dents. “It’s of­fi­cial,” notes our heroine in dis­gust. “The vil­lagers have a schoolgirl crush on the Gam­mons.” But El­fie isn’t taken in by the in­ter­lop­ers’ be­spoke travel agency or yoga lessons.

Still, will any­one but BF Dy­lan (Aneurin Barnard) be­lieve a potsmok­ing loser over and above re­spectable bour­geois types such as Mr and Mrs Gam­mon? And does she re­ally have a gen­uine case?

Class war jol­lies along this ec­cen­tric mur­der mys­tery. The char­ac­ters are broad in a way that re­calls Keep­ing Up Ap­pear­ances, but tarted up in hand-me-downs from Tim Bur­ton’s wardrobe depart­ment. The re­sult, pre­dictably, is likely to po­larise: you’ll ei­ther buy into the height­ened world of El­fie Hop­kins or make for the exit af­ter five min­utes.

Ms Win­stone, sport­ing wannabe sun­glasses and an um­brella frown, is like­ably sulky (“It’s my new look: mis­er­able as fuck”) and sur­rounded by solid panto play­ers. In a wel­come de­vel­op­ment, Win­stone se­nior shows up with a crazy tale about a sheep-eat­ing stag.

Di­rec­tor Ryan An­drews’s fea­ture de­but doesn’t al­ways hang to­gether or over­come its bud­getary con­straints, but it looks pretty good, marches to the beat of its own drum and boasts a killer twist.

irish­times.com/cul­ture

Not your granny’s Miss Marple: Jaimie Win­ston as El­fie Hop­kins Di­rected by Ryan An­drews. Star­ring Jaime Win­stone, Ray Win­stone, Steven Mack­in­tosh, Ru­pert Evans, Kate Magowan, Aneurin Barnar, Gwyneth Key­worth16

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