Muscle is certainly not the type of film I thought I was getting, and its all the better for it. There are a couple of things I didn’t know about Muscle before watching. I didn’t know what the film was about, and I didn’t know that it was written and directed by Gerard Johnson who was also behind the fantastic film Hyena (2014) starring Stephen Graham, and Peter Ferdinando. All I really knew about Muscle was the poster that you see above this writing, and its name.
So what did I think Muscle would be about, well I thought that it would be yet another testosterone fuelled Brit drama filled with fist fights, cocaine, and of course at least one scene filmed in a lap-dancing bar (not that there is anything wrong with those ingredients in a crime drama from the UK, it just seems that a huge majority of Brit films over the past few years contains those ingredients and I craved for something different in a film and I certainly got that with Muscle.
First off, it jarred me a little when I realised the film was in black and white, and I have seen a small number of ‘complaints’ about why the film isnt in colour. Well for me the film is far more powerful in black and white and its a great choice for the movie. The imagery looks stunning and the contrast in scenes looks great. It also puts the film away from the run of the mill films out there of this budget level and gives it one of its unique points.
Muscle is a fantastic film, and is perfect for the rule ‘dont judge a …..by its cover” Follow that rule and you wont be disappointed, but do be warned, Muscle is a tough watch, and not because its not well made drama with great performances. No its a tough watch because of its subject matter. Whilst this is a film perfectly set in reality, this is also a vampire film, now I dont mean vampires in the Count Dracula type of way. No its a vampire film in the way that the story is set around Simon (brilliantly played by Cavan Clerkin (The Last Kingdom) and how at the moment his life seems stuck in a rut, both at work and at home, he encounters a friendly role model in Terry (played by Craig Fairbrass) and things seem to be on the up for Simon.
But things dont always work out well in the movies, and we see that Terry isnt the nice guy that he seems and to describe him as overbearing, could be the biggest understatement I could make. Terry manipulates and begins to mould Simon into the statue that he desires and over the course of the film we see Simon go from low to lower and we the audience are powerless to do anything about it but we genuinely care about this man and hope for the best. Its always tough to watch a film where we see someone we like having the life sucked out of them by dislikeable characters and that is what I mean when I say this film is a modern day vampire film. but its one hell of a film and you should 100% check it out
It also have one of the most insane party scenes ive seen in a mainstream film for years but Im not going into details about that one, and the ending will leave you a little curious, but thats okay, it just means that whilst we spend nearly two hours with Simon, after the credits roll and the film ends, we are still left wondering, how Simon is doing, and we hope that he sorts his life out.
Muscle is out now.