‘Nick, you’re toxic and triggering.’
It’s unlikely that any film has made going to a festival seem so unappealing as The Festival manages to. Made by the creators of The Inbetweeners – an endorsement on the poster which accurately establishes the tone and nature of the film – this is a low budget British comedy about one man’s truly miserable weekend that is packed full of good natured laughs.
Nick (Joe Thomas) and his girlfriend Caitlin (Hannah Tointon) broke up at their university graduation. Or, to put it more accurately, she broke up with him minutes beforehand and his resulting declaration of love lead to public humiliation and him hiding himself away in his childhood bedroom. Weeks later, his best friend Shane (Hammed Animashaun) persuades him to go with them to the festival they’d spent a fortune on tickets for. Shane’s idol Hammerhead will be playing and Joe has promised to help him met him. With it being such a massive festival, with thousands of people attending, there’s no-one they’d bump into Caitlin….right…?
Of course Nick bumps into Caitlin, the consequences of which are just some of the film’s many funny moments. It seems obvious to say but your views on The Inbetweeners will serve as an adequate barometer on whether you should or shouldn’t see The Festival. If the you viewed the former as immature and crass; this isn’t for you. If you like your comedy rude, crude and the odd bit of nude – then crack on with giving it a watch.
Thomas plays Nick in the same way he played Simon in The Inbetweeners and Kingsley in Fresh Meat; selfish and self-interested characters who always manage to get things wrong with rather hilarious consequences (for us, horrific consequences for him…) In fact, Nick might be an even less appealing character than his other two incarnations. Nick is a really crap friend and not a particularly nice person to be around either. Few actors are able to portray an everyman-esque figure who is this unappealing. Credit has to be given for how much he commits the role and really throws himself into things. I managed to watch most of them without hiding behind my fingers in emphatic mortification, although I did experience high intensity levels of cringe throughout.
This is in stark contrast to Animashaun who plays Shane with sweetness and naviety. After doing truly wondrous things in last year’s The Barbershop Chronicles at the National Theatre and currently in the Old Viv’s A Monster Calls he manages to blend comedy and drama with ease. He’s an endearing screen presence and a real one to watch.
In fact it’s some of his interactions with other characters that are the real highlights of the film. His sweet rapport with fellow festival goer Amy (Claudia O’Doherty, best known for Netflix’s Love) is tender and believable. Flight Of The Conchords and all-round legend Jemaine Clement popping up as Shane’s step-dad was a much-welcome surprise and treat. Whilst Clement could probably just read the phonebook and have me in hysterics, his character Robin consistently steals the show. His rendition of Crowded House was a particular highlight. Having a poster for Hunt For The Wilderpeople over Nick’s bed was an excellent and much appreciated easter egg (HTFW was directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed Thor:Ragnarok and What We Do In The Shadows, Clement dazzles in the latter).
Going into more detail about the film would mean going into spoilers territory, particularly when discussing a comedy and even more so with this kind of comedy, when a large proportion of the laughs come from the surprise or shock factor. All that’s left to say is that this is a solid 90 minutes comedy that makes for a great watch with friends, filled with excellent performances and a whole lotta laughs.
The Festival is in UK cinemas now.