The sulkiest sleuth in the village
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.
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