Repeater (1979)

Director: Chris Monger

The BFI Flipside disc of Voice Over includes Monger’s previous feature Repeater as a bonus item. Made for three-quarters the budget of the other film (with that miniscule budget encompassing a quick trip to Paris as well), but also only three-quarters its duration; the DVD slick describes it as a French New Wave-influenced “deconstructed crime thriller”, which sounds ominous but there’s a certain degree of wit to the telling of… whatever the hell’s going on. In the DVD booklet, Monger describes Voice Over as being like a “regular” film, implying that Repeater wasn’t. And, well, it’s not; although Monger also notes that neither he nor his cohorts ever went to film school as such, the film has the overall feeling of some sort of student project, like the work of someone who’s only just heard about Brechtian alienation and is determined to try it out for himself. Accordingly, Repeater kind of revels in its own You-Are-Watching-A-Film artifice; it’s difficult viewing but in a different way to Voice Over‘s grotty naturalism. Simple enough story: a woman walks into a police station and confesses to murdering a man who actually committed suicide; meanwhile, next door another detective (Alexei Sayle in apparently his screen debut) is hassling a suspected hitman. The two leave together, and she hires him for a special job. I can imagine this irritating the hell out of people—you do kind of have to be open to the possibility of experimental cinema being a valid form, which I know many people are not—and even at just 75 minutes it’s still too long, but I think I still liked it better than Voice Over (which, at 108 minutes, was in vastly greater need of tightening up); and unlike that film, which probably did suffer from inadequate resources, it seems kind of right that Repeater should’ve been a seven and a half grand cheapie, it was exactly the right way to do it.

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