Review: Roy

Written and directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White, when a reclusive widower accidentally calls an adult hotline worker, an unlikely friendship is born. Starring: David Bradley, Rachel Shenton and Madelyn Smedley.

Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that David Bradley is an underappreciated national treasure. Bradley has starred in some of the most iconic British films and television shows from Harry Potter to Hot Fuzz to Broadchurch. For good reason because he’s such a fantastic, relatable, sympathetic actor who can also add an unusual edge. That’s exactly what he brings to the table with Roy, creating a sweet and lonely man who has a touch of oddity. He brings a mix of sadness and isolation to the atmosphere but as time moves on he opens up a sense of hope and encouragement. Academy-Award winner Rachel Shenton provides a performance which may be voice only but is full of personality. Shenton brings an infectious warmth which immediately brightens Bradley’s Roy.

There’s a lot of complex emotions at work beneath the surface of this story but at the same time, Tom Berkeley and Ross White are portraying quite a simple message about the importance of support. Its entire runtime goes to show how much of a difference it makes when someone takes an interest, provides company, time and generosity. Telling that with a vein of comedy is the perfect choice because it makes it all the more engaging and relatable. Plus we all love a good comedic misunderstanding.

If you’ve seen Berkeley and White’s Oscar-winning short film An Irish Goodbye, it will be absolutely no surprise to you that their previous short is just as visually stunning. The two filmmakers have a fantastic eye for detail and richness, especially with their use of lighting. It’s one of those elements which may go unnoticed most of the time but when it’s done well, it stands out. It moves with depth, the direction has a perfect grasp on the emotions of the story. Using a graceful simplicity but never feeling too simple, especially considering it all takes place within a tiny amount of space. It doesn’t feel closed in for a second.

Roy is sad, sweet, warm and funny, led by a terrific performance from the wonderful David Bradley. It’s utterly endearing with a message of generosity and compassion. The aesthetic is excellent, taking place in such a small room but making the most of the space. It’s simply a satisfyingly kind and wholesome way to spend fifteen minutes.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

Available on HBO Max in the US, not currently available in the UK

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