Review: Typo

Written and directed by Antony Meadley, an aspiring writer who finds that her marriage is not what she expected after her husband starts abusing her. Her life gets out of control and her plans to find a way out have consequences she didn’t foresee. Starring: Melissa Hollett, Guy Barnes, David Christopher-Turner, Spencer Collings and Sian Francis.

Domestic abuse is an inherently serious and difficult topic to broach in film, it’s incredibly sensitive and has to be dealt with in a way which reflects that, which unfortunately isn’t within the reach of Typo. It’s a fairly gratuitous style, brash and without subtlety, it sidesteps the more psychological elements for a simple representation of a stereotypical abusive relationship. There’s no grace or depth to the way it handles this story, and it doesn’t have anything new to add while exploring it. Its use of nudity and sex feel clumsy and uncomfortable, they don’t have much to add to the story, and even in the one instance that they do, it still isn’t enough to justify them. They’re extremely tricky scenes to pull off, even for seasoned filmmakers, so attempting to use them in this instance, was too ambitious.

Another key issue is that it has too many tell-tale signs of its destination early on, meaning it then basically spends the entire film backtracking to get to that point, which is unnecessary. The pacing is quite slow, and added to the predictable way that the story moves, it’s slowed even further. Adding a sinister edge is another element which doesn’t improve the story, it pushes that gratuitous nature further, cheapening what’s already a weak story. The performances are similarly stereotypical, as well as wooden, even in the earlier scenes there isn’t a chemistry between the two leads. Their relationship and dialogue feel forced, they’re hitting such cliched notes that it’s hard for them to build up any tangible personality or impression, they’re simply typical building blocks for characters, not fleshed out.

Visually it feels quite old-fashioned, the direction, colour and framing choices hark back to the 1990s, particularly what you might have seen from crime series. The entire style of the film feels reminiscent of something you would find in that decade, prior to a more keen, sympathetic understanding of domestic abuse. There’s a heavy use of the close-up, particularly coming from an upward angle, which could be said to be for the purpose of discomfort, but it quickly gets repetitive and leaves little room for movement or variety.

Typo broaches difficult topics but doesn’t have the skills to do them justice, with the filmmakers biting off more than they could chew. The story doesn’t have anything new to add to exploring domestic abuse, and hits stereotypical notes throughout. Its style is hugely lacking in grace or subtlety, it’s heavy-handed and undermines the serious nature to its story. Already struggling, then adding a sinister edge which you can easily see coming, only makes things even weaker. It was a much too lofty goal to tackle an intensely poignant issue using such a blatant and overt style.

Verdict: ✯ | 2/10

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