‘Everything’s pretty if you’re high enough up’
As I walked out of the Edinburgh Film Festival screening of Everyone’s going to Die I heard a girl say to her friend, ‘I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it and then he ———!’
‘That was the turning point!’ her friend agreed with a laugh and they walked out of the cinema having had a high old time.
They were right, that was the moment when the atmosphere changed and everyone started to enjoy themselves. It didn’t go as far along that route as I expected. Once the incident had occurred the film could have gone down a path of farcical yet believable hilarity. Instead it stayed a quirky melange of quick repartee between the two leads. Everyone’s going to die is a British independent film that received its International premiere at the 2013 Edinburgh Film Festival. Written and directed by the two-person filmmaking collective known as Jones, Everyone’s going to die is their first feature and stars German star Nora Tschirner as Melanie and new find Rob Knighton as Ray.
Knighton was an East End carpet fitter until he was recently spotted in Shoreditch and put on the books of a model agency. From there he has made a successful leap into acting, playing a stylish fifty-something geezer whose brother has just died. He whiffs of Harvey Keitel circa Reservoir Dogs and ‘finds people’ for a living – not in a friendly way. Yes, he’s a gangster. Melanie is a German girl who has moved to Scotland to be with her inconsiderate fiance. She meets Ray in a cafe when she finds she is 20p short for a cup of coffee. Ray helps out and thanks to the sort of coincidences that the movies rely on they meet up again in an seaside arcade and spend the day together. Ray is off to meet his late brother’s family for the first time in years. For reasons related to the fact that this is a movie, Melanie tags along.
The two leads work well together. Knighton shows Ray’s slow opening up to another human whilst Tschirner is believable as another lost and confused twenty-something*. They are a quirky pair and instinctively recognise in each other someone whom they can talk to, someone who understands their lonerish tendencies. The script allows them to exchange witticisms although I felt that Melanie’s colloquial English could be out of character – occasionally she came out with convoluted jokes that seemed more natural for an English screenwriter than a German fish out of water.
The standout scene is a lengthy speech by Tschirner. It is uncut and seems to go on for days, filmed in profile with Ray’s contributions to the conversation coming from off-camera. Deliberately framed with the actress, the horizon and a car mirror, Tschirner sharing the difficulties of life and making decisions.
Everyone must die is well-shot and nicely paced. The characters are pleasant companions for the 83 minutes they are part of out lives. But why is it necessary for people in films to be gangsters? How many people in real life are gangsters? I know it’s a hard statistic to discover, I guess there wasn’t an Are you a gangster? YES/NO question on the last census. But it can’t be that many people. It’s hard to get into – for a start no careers officers at schools are saying, ‘Have you considered gangstering?’ Yet how many films star gangsters? Everyone’s going to die would have worked just as well if Ray had been an accountant. Still I liked it. The latest movie to prove the aphorism: All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.
Everyone’s going to Die is one of the contenders for the Michael Powell Award.