Be prepared for an eloquently penned piece of prose, made flesh through a performance carved from granite and immortalised in celluloid. Martin Carr explains why The Pyramid Texts is must-see cinema.
James Cosmo might be familiar from Game of Thrones and Braveheart but this film will burn him into your retinas for another reason. Filmed in crisp, clean black and white with the occasional burst of colour, writer Geoff Thompson has penned something of stark brilliance held together by a mountainous performance from Cosmo. Crafted into a ninety minute monologue and locked to a single location, both men combine words and characterisation to give us something singularly unique.
Part confessional, part purging exercise and filled to the brim with emotional punch, this love letter from father to son uses words as weapons to wound. Awarded Best Performance in 2015 at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Cosmo owns the screen from an opening six minutes of silence through to the emotionally honest conclusion. Thompson bestows beauty upon boxing complemented by Brown’s uncompromising yet self-assured cinematography, while music used sparingly builds on these elements.
Directed with a keen eye by the Shamasian brothers Ludwig and Paul, The Pyramid Texts belies a stage play sensibility using their single location with skill and invention. Cosmo ably abetted by his son Ethan, paints the picture of a world weary battler, paternal yet combative, perpetually engaged with his inner demons and self-doubt. There is mastery here displayed through gesture and glance which informs us without spoon feeding. At its core is a plea from the edge for forgiveness from a person in pain. A soul-crushingly honest depiction of what it means to utilise perceived weakness within the confines of a sport, where the combatants consider themselves warriors of men, defenders of tradition and uniquely qualified to pass judgement.
At its finest Thompson moves beyond those ropes drawing comparisons with world-wide religions, evoking gladiatorial clashes stretching back to the Romans. It is held fast by a monumentally magnetic central performance personified by Cosmo, as he delivers blow after blow dancing round the audience while Thompson weaves his spell. Inter-cut this with flashes of training in progress, flashbacks to glorious moments of victory and bed side vigils, whispered in moments of quiet reflection and you are in the presence of greatness.
These are words no father should utter, no acts or moments of raw emotion any will bear witness to because in art, unlike other arenas, we are allowed to hide through invention, imagination and make believe, never admitting culpability, responsibility or weakness beyond the confines of fiction. Only in this arena, bound by these restrictions are such feelings allowed to find voice and Cosmo gives us such a multitude of contradictory interpretations that it leaves a mark. For those who can find The Pyramid Texts be prepared for an eloquently penned piece of prose, made flesh through a performance carved from granite and immortalised in celluloid.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: The Shammasian Brothers
Written by: Geoff Thompson
Starring: James Cosmo, Ethan Cosmo
The Pyramid Texts is released on Digital platforms inc. iTunes, Amazon and Google Play April 28.