REVIEW: Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is a Dark Comedy with a Bittersweet Edge
Ben Wheatley, director of High Rise and Free Fire, restrains himself to great effect in Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, a dark humoured comedy set at an all too familiar event.
It’s New Years Eve and Colin (played by a great Neil Maskell) has rented a lavish home for his family’s party, unfortunately almost all the family do not get along. Everything goes mostly smoothly until David, the black sheep of the family, turns up. David is hated by Colin as well as others (for a reason not to be spoiled) and as the movie goes on, we learn of David’s deeds that would make his family dislike him oh so much. As the night progresses we see many stories unfold within Colin’s which help bring the movie together as a whole. We see little moments that anyone who has ever been to a family event would recognize: the arguing and the drunkenness but also how great it feels to be with your family even if they’re awful people, it’s a fairly bittersweet movie.
With Happy New Year, Colin Burstead Ben Wheatley strips himself back, there’s no gunfights or murders, just family drama. He makes a movie quite different to Free Fire while also being kind of similar. Ben himself said that the movie is like Free Fire as the movie is set in one primary location but instead of guns they use words. The use of handheld cinematography makes the movie feel claustrophobic and really makes you feel like there is no way out of this event. The movie is very short, just clocking in at around ninety minutes which made it feel like a breeze to watch, which also means no-one has an excuse not to watch it.
What I loved about this movie was how real it felt to me, I’ve been to parties that awkward and argumentative. It was made by someone who knew how to capture the cringe, like the original The Office series did. He is of course helped by a mostly great ensemble that range from good to great with Charles Dance, Hayley Squires and Sam Riley being highlights for me. Another highlight of this movie was the score by Clint Mansell, it is styled like an historical epic score which works well with the themes in the movie, in my opinion.
Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is a timeless movie with even the events of the movie feeling like they could have happened 100 years from now. The movie feels personal to director unlike the other movies of his that I have seen. Try to see this movie if you can but that will be very hard because it doesn’t have any distribution in the US, but if you can find it (I’m not judging how) it’s very much worth your time.