‘Tube-sui­cide can be funny as well as aw­ful’

Di­rec­tor Jonathan Ger­sh­field’s has an­noyed the coun­try’s train driv­ers with his new film com­edy. Alex Kas­riel finds out why

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

PEO­PLE DIV­ING un­der trains is not ex­actly a likely comedic theme, but this grim sub­ject forms the plot of new Bri­tish movie Three and Out. In it, Macken­zie Crook is Tube driver and as­pir­ing au­thor Paul Cal­low, who ac­ci­den­tally runs some­one down with his train. Un­luck­ily, a few days later he has an­other “one un­der”. Af­ter find­ing out that on the Lon­don Un­der­ground, if you have “three un­der” in a month you can leave with 10 years’ salary, he sets about try­ing to find his third ca­su­alty.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the sub­ject of the film was a cause for con­cern, par­tic­u­larly for the train driver’s union Aslef. Writ­ing on its web­site, gen­eral sec­re­tary Keith Norman said the plot was “in­sult­ing and fool­ish”.

But di­rec­tor Jonathan Ger­sh­field ar­gues that the best com­edy comes out of tragedy.

“Com­edy should have some depth to it,” says the 50-some­thing di­rec­tor, orig­i­nally from South­gate, North Lon­don. “Most come­dies are a bit triv­ial or friv­o­lous. I knew I wanted do some­thing that would make peo­ple think. This film def­i­nitely starts off as a broad com­edy and it changes grad­u­ally and it be­comes a poignant drama. It deals with some se­ri­ous is­sues like as­sisted sui­cide.

“The com­plaints came from peo­ple who haven’t seen the film. If Norman had seen the film, he wouldn’t have the con­cerns that he had. It’s ac­tu­ally a very sen­si­tive film about friend­ship and all sorts of big hu­man is­sues.”

Three and Out is Ger­sh­field’s de­but movie, hav­ing worked in ad­ver­tis­ing and TV come­dies like Big Train, Dead Ringers and Twisted Tales.

Ger­sh­field, who grew up go­ing to South­gate and Dis­trict Re­form Syn­a­gogue, says he feels priv­i­leged to have en­listed a stel­lar cast in­clud­ing Crook; Star Trek’s Colm Meany; Gemma Arter­ton, who has just been an­nounced as the next Bond Girl; and Imelda Staunton, who in­sisted on rewrit­ing some of her lines to make her char­ac­ter more be­liev­able.

There are also cameos from Sir Antony Sher and Kerry Ka­tona (who Crook de­scribes as the next Bar­bara Wind­sor). “Macken­zie was an ab­so­lute joy to work with — one of the most easy-go­ing ac­tors I’ve had the plea­sure to work with,” says Ger­sh­field, who re­counts the scene where Ka­tona dan­gles him off a bridge and Crook only ad­mit­ted to break­ing a rib af­ter shoot­ing had fin­ished.

“We were look­ing for some­one who was go­ing to be con­vinc­ing as a train driver and looked as if they were a think­ing per­son — some­one with lit­er­ary am­bi­tions. As soon as his name was sug­gested, I thought he was ideal for it and as soon as we sent him the script, he loved it.” Three and Out is re­leased on Fri­day April 25. Film re­views, page 53

Jonathan Ger­sh­field: “It’s a very sen­si­tive film”

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