Do Elephants Pray? (2012) *

January 29th, 2013
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Paul Hills

Script: Jonnie Hurn

Producers: Jonnie Hurn, Paul Hills
Cast: Jonnie Hurn, Julie Dray, Marc Warren, Rosie Fellner, Grace Vallorani, John Last, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Cassandra French, Dougal Porteous, Iain Lee, Abi Titmus, Yann Goven

UK  105mins 2010 Drama

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A personal project then from Jonnie Hurn who wrote, produced and stars. Do Elephants Pray? was made in 2010 but has made many a fair mile on the festival circuit prior to finally making landfall in British cinemas having not only attended, but won awards in a slew of minor festivals like Colorado, Mexico, Marbella, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Phuket and our very own Reading Festival of 2011.

Writer/Producer/Actors in general, can go one of two ways; either they create something quite remarkable… or not. I’m genuinely sorry to say that this one falls into the latter category. It’s poorly thought-out, flimsy scripted on a fundamentally flawed idea, the resolution of which is both obvious from the beginning and enervating in its execution.

The characters are almost all rudimentary and are certainly not served by the dialogue afforded them. The lead, Callum, doesn’t really have a problem at work. He’s the ‘maverick’ star in an ad agency who always delivers, albeit at the eleventh hour, but the Callum made flesh by Hurn is never at any point confused either with a cool maverick or indeed, a truly creative force.

Rather, the film serves solely in the wish fulfilment of a decidedly uncharismatic man, vainly portraying himself as his alter ego and dishing up cod philosophy in the name of enlightenment. None of the leads are likeable and in the playing, none of them comes across as at all real.  The action feels forced or clunky and it’s all played by the numbers, although Marc Warren gives a good fist at trying.

There is no doubt that Hills is a committed filmmaker; he has dedicated his life to the pursuit of film -indeed, loves film. But this script was a good long way from being a shooting draft and he was sorely let down by the cast and by Hurn in particular, taking the lead. The budget also leaked across every frame, there being little or no production value to speak of.

I really wanted to like this film, Marc Warren is always watchable and it had an intriguing title. Indeed, Paul Hills has made some good work in the past and he and Warren are long term collaborators, never better than with Hills breakout 1995 success, Boston Kickout, starring a young Warren, John Simm and Andrew Lincoln in the cast.

It has evidently been a long trawl and indeed, perhaps a labour of love, being three years as it has before Elephants gained distribution. I think for good reason. Next time, perhaps. AT

Do Elephants Pray?’ was made in 2010, but has made many a fair mile on the festival circuit prior to finally making landfall in British cinemas, having not only attended, but won awards in a slew of minor festivals like Colorado, Mexico, Marbella, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Phuket and our very own Reading Festival of 2011.

Writer/Producer/Actors in general, can go one of two ways; either they create something quite remarkable… or not. I’m genuinely sorry to say that this one falls into the latter category. It’s a poorly thought out, flimsy script, on a fundamentally flawed idea, the resolution of which is both obvious from the beginning and enervating in its execution.

The characters are almost all rudimentary and are certainly not served by the dialogue afforded them. The lead, Callum doesn’t really have a problem at work; he’s the ‘maverick’ star in an ad agency who always delivers, albeit at the eleventh hour, but the Callum made flesh by Hurn is never at any point confused either with a cool maverick or indeed, a truly creative force.

Rather, the film serves solely in the wish fulfilment of a decidedly uncharismatic man, vainly portraying himself as his alter ego and dishing up cod philosophy in the name of enlightenment. None of the leads are likeable and in the playing, none of them across as at all real, the action feels forced or clunky and it’s all played by the numbers, although Marc Warren gives a good fist at trying.

There is no doubt that Hills is a committed filmmaker; he has dedicated his life to the pursuit of film -indeed, loves film. But this script was a good long way from being a shooting draft and he was sorely let down by the cast and by Hurn in particular taking the lead. The budget also leaked across every frame, there being little or no production value to speak of.

I really wanted to like this film, Marc Warren is always watchable and it had an intriguing title. Indeed, Paul Hills has made some good work in the past and he and Warren are long term collaborators, never better than with Hills breakout 1995 success, ‘Boston Kickout’, with a young Warren, John Simm and Andrew Lincoln in the cast.

It has evidently been a long trawl and indeed, perhaps a labour of love, being three years as it has before Elephants gained distribution. I think for good reason. Next time, perhaps. AT

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