Keri Collins’ crime caper Convenience sees down-on-their-luck amateur criminals Ajay & Shaan hold up a petrol station only to find they’re stuck there all night awaiting the safe’s time-lock to open.
Director Keri Collins captures the off-the-cuff indie spirit of Kevin Smith’s Clerks in BAFTA Cymru award winning caper Convenience. The film, which stars Ray Panthaki and Adeel Akhtar as a pair of unlikely store robbers forced to assume the identities of staff members while waiting for the time-locked safe to open, has an absurdist humour that permeates through its tale of likable villains on a road to ruin.
Opposed by a feisty store clerk, the quick-fix criminals’ plans quickly unravel. An assortment of middle-of-the-night customers including a foul-mouthed granny, a pair of stoners and a suicidal man with a death wish to set fire to himself on the forecourt scupper our anti-heroes’ hopeful wish for things to move smoothly. They also have to endure Vicky McClure’s delightfully acerbic hostage while the threat of Russian gangsters and an outstanding strip club debt hangs over their heads.
Amid the insecurity of McClure’s uncooperative shop assistant, the robbers face the threat of their own long-standing friendship falling foul of their predicament. Panthaki’s Ajay is the cool head to the insecure, unpredictable Shaan (played by Akhtar); the straight-thinker and the loose cannon. It’s an entertaining double act duly given its cred thanks to the energy of the performances. Akhtar is especially good as the bumbling, childlike fish-out-of-water who has a charming innocence that belies his unsuccessful attempts at tough-guy machismo.
Collins lets things tick effortlessly, depicting an unpredictable lunacy as the hours count down like the clock in TV’s 24. Satisfyingly, he gives the performances the chance to take centre stage which becomes increasingly important given the array of curiously unhinged night time visitors. Look out for cameos from Verne Troyer and Anthony Head, the latter enjoying one of the film’s most touching moments when Shaan is unwittingly tasked with talking a depressed customer out of killing himself.
Convenience is a well-oiled piece of work; a confidently written, energetically performed, smartly directed film. To call it a uniquely British, absurdist Clerks would not do it a disservice but might imply an inability to play to international audiences, something Convenience won’t have any trouble doing. That’s because it has a winning combination of buddy comedy and crime caper, its touching pathos neatly underpinning a sense of outlandish silliness.
Written by Daniel Stephens
Directed by: Keri Collins
Written by: Simon Fantauzzo
Starring: Ray Panthaki, Vicky McClure, Adeel Akhtar
Released: 2015 / Genre: Comedy
Convenience is released at UK cinemas October 2.