Following the recent airing of Julian Barratt’s Little Cracker on Sky TV, we thought it was timely to look at his directorial debut, the short film Curtains (available as one of the extras on the Journey of The Childmen DVD). Our resident film buff, Paulyne, immersed herself in its strange, strange world – and here’s what she had to say:
We’re guessing there will be a fair few of you out there who have a copy of the recently-releaesed Boosh DVD Journey of the Childmen. And we suspect a good proportion of you will have watched the documentary more than once already. But how many of you have got as far as taking a peek at the special features on the disc?
The bonus features are predominantly short films, and one that stands out as unexpectedly un-Booshy is Julian Barratt’s short film, Curtains. Written by Barratt and Dan Jemmett, and directed by Barratt too, this film follows the remaining days of an old man’s life as a Punch & Judy puppeteer in Great Yarmouth.
Darker than what you might expect from someone who co-invented the crimp, and at the same time hauntingly beautiful, the film is a study of an old man’s slow descent into madness. Fearing he will be blamed for the death of the B&B landlady he has enjoyed a wild night of passion with (yes really!), he takes her cadaver with him on an unplanned road trip. Then as he continues his journey (and against his better judgement) he finds himself with even more companions!
It’s Lizzy & Sarah meets BeetleJuice, its picturesque backdrop juxtaposing with the grotesque state of the old man at the centre of it all. Completely out of place in this family-orientated seaside location, it’s clear from the start that he’s hopelessly lost; his mind wearing away even more rapidly than his physical self, which is itself obviously weakening. With every new destination he reaches he still continues to put up his sad Punch & Judy show, and he treats the puppets like children, repainting them delicately and talking to them as if they are his own spawn.
This is a stunning piece of twisted visual art that puts Barratt on the map as a director. It’s dark with the kind of laugh-out-loud moments that make you wonder if you should be laughing. It’s the story of a man who’s left with no one in his life of any importance, drifting through an unfamilar town, constantly and still chasing up his ‘talent agent’ and trying to grasp onto any hope that he has left for the career that he always wanted.
We are also treated to some Booshniverse cameos in the film, including Steve Oram and the Ralfe Band provide the perfect-fitting soundtrack!
Curtains may make you question what stirs the brains of Barratt and his co-writer Jemmett, but I’d say it’s best not to question it, and instead sit back and enjoy what I hope is the start of a long and fruitful career behind the cameras for Barratt.