Review: Nobody Loves You and You Don’t Deserve to Exist

Written and directed by Brett Gregory, as a contagion befalls the UK a grieving teacher attempts to recover the tragic-comic fragments of his shattered self in Manchester. Starring: Caroline Chesworth, Reuben Clarke, David Howell, James Ward, Nicki Davy, Lisa Maguire, Jenny Owen, Wendy Patterson and Margot Richardson.

This film attempts to blend poetic therapy with a biographical tale and an exploration of neglect and abuse, using documentary talking head styled scenes, and the problem is that it’s not a combination which blends well. Each of the different elements are working against each other, rather than together, creating something messy. Its basic concept of following the life of a man who experienced a traumatic childhood through key ages, and how it shaped his future is a good one but it only scratches the surface and doesn’t have the depth to do its issues true justice. These themes call out for a dose of realism, harshness and blunt honesty but the poetic timbre matched with the almost fairy tale-esque narration means that it can’t achieve that tone. On top of that it then throws in a vein of mystery and makes the focus even less clear.

Part of the problem is its pacing, it moves extremely slowly and has a penchant for long, drawn out sequences which results in a repetitive feel. It feels as though it’s a story which could have been achieved in much less time, or even more well suited to a short film to add more punch. Using the talking to camera style throughout seriously hinders its options for variety, leaving the direction feeling one noted. There’s also a struggle as time goes on to prevent it from shifting to talking at its audience rather than to them. It does accent the atmosphere with close-up detail shots but unfortunately they just end up slowing things down even further.

Each of the performances bring something different but they also all feed into the very dramatic and structured nature of the film. They don’t feel organic and flowing, they come across intensely scripted and pushing a little too hard on the tone, which doesn’t allow for the emotion to come through genuinely. It’s a particular issue with the youngest version of Jack, using the volume of his voice to accent points too overtly and becoming melodramatic. It’s a shame as he does feel like he has the potential for something more relatable, as each version of Jack does, but the style of writing doesn’t give them a lot of breathing room.

Nobody Loves You and You Don’t Deserve to Exist has a good idea but puts so much focus on creating a poetic or artistic style that it undermines the weight of its themes. It tries to do a lot but at the same time it’s hitting the same note throughout, moving overly slowly and not creating enough development. Its choices in style fight against one another and stop it from establishing a realistic feel which it sorely calls out for, missing a chance to really grasp the depth of its harsh and poignant themes.

Verdict: ✯✯ | 4/10

Available now On Demand & on Plex

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