Written and directed by Ben S. Hyland, Pauline and Barry are a seemingly happily married middled aged couple, that is until Pauline tunes into relationship hour on Talk Radio and thinks she recognises the nameless voice that’s relaying a lifetime of regrets live on the radio. Starring: Julia Deakin, Pearce Quigley, Tim Key, Mary Jane Lowe and Thomas Deller.
The opening of this film is all very deceptively mundane, it’s the perfect set-up for a family home, it looks like a million others likely do in the UK, watching a woman cook dinner but that everyday atmosphere does not last long. What follows is a hilarious, ruthless and unrelenting dark comedy that brings one surprise after another, an initial sucker punch of unexpected turns goes down a satisfying and brilliantly entertaining road. It’s utterly clever to put you at ease with the casual, authentic family setting to then be in such contrast with the rest of the film, it’s one of many ways in which the writing is witty and shrewd.
All of its brilliance is brought to life by Julia Deakin effortlessly, her performance is so sympathetic and compelling, the huge range of emotions she goes through in under 8-minutes is undeniably impressive and an absolute pleasure to watch. Watching Deakin portray the gradual realisations of Pauline as things get increasingly complicated is a joy, the timing of her performance means that you can really feel like you’re discovering this new information alongside her which draws you into the story all the more. She’s well supported by Quigley as husband Barry who’s simultaneously useless and intense, and Key has the ideal classic radio presenter voice, he’d fit right in on any station.
This film is firing on all cylinders undoubtedly but the strongest element has to be the writing because it is absolute perfection. The dialogue is unbelievably brutal and it’s brought through in such a casual way that it hits even harder, it’s completely unexpected but hugely appreciated because it’s incredibly funny. Added to the fact that the progression of the story and its comedic timing is right on the money, as soon as you think its revealed itself completely, it still has more to say. The direction really feeds into how effective the writing is, it almost holds itself back to keep to a rather simple yet stylish elegance. It’s a sign of great director that they know when less is more and that’s what Hyland has demonstrated here.
Talk Radio is witty, sharp, brutal and hilarious, watching it unfold is immensely satisfying and gripping, never has a woman listening to the radio been so thrilling. Hyland’s writing and direction go hand in hand so wonderfully to really intensify the film’s impact, the timing makes its twists and turns pack a hell of a punch. This film gives you a superbly unexpected experience, they really go for it and without question, it is absolutely brilliant.