B&B, directed and written by Joe Ahearne, is a light hearted turned dark comedy about a weekend away in the countryside for couple Mark and Fred. The two are returning to a British countryside bed and breakfast to celebrate an anniversary, however it’s not an anniversary that marks a milestone in their relationship, it is a year since the couple were victims of discrimination at the hands of innkeeper Josh – and took him to court.
Sound familiar? Yes B&B seems at times a nod to the recent scandals that have appeared in the news where the LGBT community and those of a more, let’s say , ‘traditional’ standpoint have had a difference of opinion. Take for instance the gay cake row that started in Ireland way back in 2014. And in B&B just like in Ireland, the gays won.
So B&B starts with Marc and Fred checking into the lodge, the opening scenes and initial interactions between the characters are excruciating to watch. A rather smug Mark rings the reception bell after perusing the newspaper clippings and glancing at the donations jar on the counter- needed to help keep the inn afloat after the legal fees. An unimpressed and barely civil innkeeper arrives to check the couple in. The elephant in the room is formidable and lets you know that the battle may have been won, but the war is far from over, as Mark soon finds out when he opens up his room to find they still haven’t got that darned double bed. But soon enough that will be the last of their worries.
You’ll find no young men prancing around the countryside exploring their sexuality here. No, B&B delves into the murkier issues facing todays LGBT community, Ahearne opts for the cruising spots, the self loathing and the darker side of being different, yet does so with a relatively lighthearted approach.
With the introduction of the Russian guest, Fred’s alarm bells start ringing and he warns Mark be careful, you’re gay, he’s Russian. Fred’s unease deepens into a panic as the story progresses which shows just how unsafe it can still feel to be gay, even now. Fred soon discovers he isn’t the only one who feels he can’t be out and proud at this inn, the innkeepers teenage son Paul bats for the other side as well, which guides us into the struggle of coming out to an unsupportive parent. A theme which is later revealed to be a driving force behind B&B.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, B&B is a typical tale of people who couldn’t be any different from each other coming together when they find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Grievances are put aside, begrudgingly, in order to reach the greater good. Even this is bittersweet though as the messy history causes the characters to get in each others way resulting in a comedy of errors.
Whilst B&B Lean so towards a dark comedy, it has all the makings of a thriller. On a backdrop of subtle British humour it twists and turns from start to finish as the plot thickens, keeping you guessing at just what the hell have Mark and Fred walked into. Although not as funny as it tries to be, there are a few moments where you’ll crack a smile but you won’t be laughing out loud. Most of the lols stem from watching the situation just get worse and worse, rather than any too obvious punchlines.
With the traditional innkeeper, the hulking Russian, the angry teen and the gay city folk, the ensemble works disastrously well together for the sake of B&B. Yet, the small cluster of characters and limited set locations do give it more of a theatre feel than that of a feature length film. You can imagine watching the group at an awkward on-stage dinner party and easily reaching the same conclusion, that perhaps with a bit more open mindedness from the beginning the weekend might have actually gone all right.
Ahearne has put on a good show with B&B. You’ll find the characters relatable to people in the real world and the events in the film, like a tale told at a friendly reunion, are sure to raise some eyebrows and get a few giggles. Recommended as one to watch perhaps on a lazy Sunday or a hangover day when you need something to watch but don’t have the energy to be overloaded with information.
Release date 23rd October on DVD/ VOD