A Fantastic Fear Of Everything - Blu-ray Review

'Pegg is on top form here, delivering his best performance outside of the Cornetto Trilogy'

Based on a novella by Withnail And I writer and director Bruce Robinson, A Fantastic Fear Of Everything is regularly infused with an antiquity of style, uncannily British sense of humour and superb exaggerated performances that will be familiar to fans of the grandiloquent Brit flick. Having unfairly received something of a critical butchering upon its release, Crispian Mills' and Chris Hopewell's collaborative directorial debut now feels destined to achieve a similar cult status to Robinson's earlier film.

This is in no small part thanks to Simon Pegg's blistering central performance as Jack, a former children's author turned television script writer whose current project focuses upon notorious Victorian murderers. Pegg is an actor whose big screen choices outside of his collaborations with Edgar Wright have been inconsistent, even at times woefully disappointing (for a prime example, look no further than last year's abysmal Hector And The Search For Happiness). Thankfully, Pegg is on top form here, delivering his best performance outside of the Cornetto Trilogy and demonstrating just why he should seek out significantly more offbeat roles such as this to showcase what a genuinely gifted comedy performer he is.

Jack himself is a wonderful character for writer Mills to base his adapted screenplay around, combining elements of a modern Gothic protagonist, unreliable narrator and Pythonesque nutter. It gradually becomes clear that Jack's paranoia and erratic behaviour stems not simply from the unsettling nature of his chosen topic but from far more complex issues, and Pegg deserves hearty praise for balancing superbly the pathos and ludicrousness of Jack, a skill he would develop with even greater success a year later through his performance in Wright's The World's End.

Co-directors Mills and Hopewell craft a London unsettlingly out of time, successfully handpicking from the capital's history aesthetic elements from the 19th Century, the seventies and eighties, as well as the present day, and weaving them together via Jack's increasingly crumbling psyche. The duo also include occasional excursions into the surreal in bold and satisfying fashion, particularly during the film's opening and middle acts.

In fact, it is A Fantastic Fear Of Everything's closing third which proves to be its downfall. Having confidently spent the opening seventy-odd minutes providing a meandering and wonderfully oddball depiction of Jack's existence whilst also measuredly revealing details from his past, Mills and Hopewell apparently have no idea of where to take the character during the closing half an hour. After diluting the focus on Jack by unnecessarily sharing it with two additional characters following an unconvincing twist, the film veers into much less interesting, more formulaic territory. It's an anticlimax which results in A Fantastic Fear Of Everything concluding at its weakest and least satisfying point, something which may unfairly detract from the sizeable helping of cinematic brilliance which precedes it.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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