Review: 1-800-D-Direct

Directed by Clare Macdonald and written by stars Haley Bishop and Gemma Yates-Round. While working a mundane job selling Dishwashers in 1960’s Manhattan, Joyce and Frances secretly start a secret database of all the men in New York City based on sexual performance. Also starring: Caroline Ward, Savvy Clement, Philippa Carson, Chris Rogers, Kirsty Sturgess, Jess Pentney and William Sebag-Montefiore.

You can quickly glean from the title which direction this story is going and the whole concept of a secret database of date worthy men is actually a great idea. The cover of the dishwasher company works really well, the number of double entendres that apply to both appliances and appendages is surprisingly plentiful. The story has a superb pace and patter to it, increasing as times goes on and adding an intensity that may push the joke a little far for some but thankfully it doesn’t cross the line too far. The writing uses a classic coincidental comedy with a false seriousness that comes across with just the right amount of sincerity. It’s genuinely quite easy to imagine that a group of women could hoodwink clueless men with this metaphor and run the business under their noses.

1960s New York will always be a great era to set a story in, the colours and costume immediately add value and atmosphere. That’s exactly what you get here, the visual is strong right off the bat. It’s a simple office set up that gives an effective Mad Men feel, it has a great attention to detail that extends all the way to a penchant for the phallic. The direction breaks away from that simplicity, slowly intensifying both the comedy and the atmosphere.

The ensemble all capture the era perfectly, their body language and blend of quirks create a very convincing group of co-workers. Writers Haley Bishop and Gemma Yates-Round lead the charge confidently and with a great chemistry. Everyone has something to add, each feeding into the comedy and punctuating its one liners. They strike the right chord of trying to appear serious while never losing the film’s feeling of being entirely self-aware of its silly, tongue-in-cheek tone.

1-800-D-Direct is a little bit filthy, lots of fun and a smart concept which is executed extremely well by the whole team. It’s colourful, fast paced and energetic with a great eye for fun details. It’s both very silly and yet a completely reasonable idea that many women would probably find helpful, like a Tinder cheat sheet.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of Exit 6 Film Festival

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