Film Review: Burke & Hare

Sometimes a movie comes along that just hits every stereotype you can think of when describing a “genre” of film. Burke & Hare is one of those films. Imagine if you will: it’s the weekend, it’s mid December, it’s dark and absolutely chucking it down outside, you’re bored as hell. Picturing it?

Right, it’s this exact situation where you think you’ve only got two options for what to do to pass the time. Sleep or watch a film. Now, everyone likes an afternoon nap, don’t get me wrong, but from time to time, you just need to chuck on a DVD. And that was the exact situation I was in. So on went Burke & Hare.

It truly is you typical British independent comedy type film, you can almost take the recipe and list film after film after film.

1) Assemble a cast made up, it seems almost entirely, of the regular British “comedic” actors. If they have a credit in Black Books, Spaced, or The Office for example, expect to see them crop up on screen.

2) Take a plot that really is dark and nasty, apply a light helping of British comedy, humour and wit.

3) Bake at a medium heat for 90 minutes – no more.

And there we have it, the recipe for all those wonderful, British comedies of the last decade. Movies which are just perfect for throwing away an afternoon. Movies for which your brain doesn’t have to do anything other than just tick by. Burke & Hare, follows the recipe to the letter, and produces a film, which will never go down in the halls of time as a classic. Students wont debate endlessly the plot holes, historical inaccuracies or whether Bill Bailey looks better with or without his almost trademark beard and honestly, I don’t care; with an afternoon to throw away and darkness, flooding and a complete miserableness outside, in this situation Burke & Hare was absolute movie perfection.

Go into it with your eyes open, understand what you are going to get and Burke & Hare is will leave you in the same state you started, just 90 minutes later. The movie relies heavily on its leading performances and the chemistry between “Burke & Hare” or “Pegg & Serkis” make the film. The bring a warmth and charm to two dark and twisted characters.

You almost start to emphasise with them, you accept that they are just trying to make a living, to provide, to get by and survive. They both nail the role and responsibility of taking two really unpleasant characters and portraying them in a way, that not only makes you enjoy their company, but that actually hanging out with them seems like fun. You get drawn in to a world which, however much you know is wrong, somehow seems like a right laugh.

And yet, for all its dark plot, comedic twists and over all silliness, there is one moment, one absolute streak of pure gold that shows just why a good British comedy can’t be touched. It’s writing. Where else can you find a comparison between the Burke & Hare murders and Shakespeare?

Don’t expect Burke & Hare to change your life. But don’t write it off. It’s silly, childish fun. And I love it for it.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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