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Ooh, there’s dark comedy and then there’s absolutely pitch black comedy.
Not the sort of thing I was expecting from you Mr King, and I enjoyed it all the more because of that.
I love a comically tragic ending, me.
Glad you liked it Rich. But i was apparently not aware of the humour in it, apart from the syringe at the end – which had me thinking “served you fucking right for acting like a cock”!
What i liked was the huge contrast between a very real and shocking story line and a bizarre ending! I didn’t pick up on any humour throughout the film (apart from the guy’s embarrassing attempts to say sorry). Is this ending classed as “black humour” or is all of it black humour because of the ending…that none of it would be funny without that odd ending?
Am i being a west country “fly be on the turnip” singing simpleton?
Yes, I would consider this film to be black humour. Not just the ending though, the whole thing is surely a comic short. But as I say, it is at the very darkest end of comedy. Tony Hancock talked about the best comedy being funny and sad, Chris Morris takes this to the darkest saddest most disturbing extremes, and this film does the same, while simultaneously extending a limb into the tragic grim reality of life.
And it looks serious. It’s filmed like a drama. It feels like real life. Talk about a deadpan expression! This film is directed with an utterly straight face. Utterly deadpan.
Except it has a note of comedy running throughout, and – as with all jokes – has a punchline. A slapstick punchline, with the needle in the eye.
Watch it again, looking for the comedy, and you’ll see that it runs through the entire film. The very beginning of the film – and, I am sure, the inspiration for the piece – is the amusing and commonplace saying “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” (clearly foreshadowing the punchline) and this is humorously attributed simply to “Mum.”
Then we are introduced to the post-argument couple. We don’t know what the argument was, because it’s irrelevant. He turns the radio on, she turns it straight off (an amusing moment of conflict). Crucially, he says “babes it was a joke” and her steeliness suggests that there is a conflict here between what is considered funny, and what has serious consequences. He thinks something is funny, she does not. She accuses him of taking things “too far by one step.” And, in the end, she will be proven absolutely right.
First though, he takes comically overblown steps to make it up to her. What makes it funnier however is that she doesn’t go “what the hell have you filled the car with flowers for!?” or even “awww a photo of a puppy!” she just ignores it all and makes him look like a dick. Which makes you laugh.
The comedy in the shop comes from the trinkets he pick up, underlined by the incomprehensible conversation of the two Asian guys (one of whom sounds like he says “MONTY PYTHON” at 2.53 ha ha! Probably unintentional!)
So far so subtle, except narrative dictates this must all be heading somewhere (and we didn’t get a big enough reaction from her when she saw the flowers, so THAT clearly didn’t serve as an ending). Also, we don’t know the beginning of the argument, so it makes sense that we might not see the aftermath. So what we should be heading towards is not a conclusion as such, but a punchline, or a dramatic crescendo.
I was expecting a car crash. I think it’s foreshadowed. It just seems the obvious thing to happen. Especially when she’s biting the air to catch the chocolates. I was expecting a head-on collision. What we instead get is a flip of expectations, by presenting the car crash, but then avoiding it.
Misdirection is important in comedy. We breathe a sigh of relief that the car crash was averted, only to have her step out of the car to her death. We know the spider is plastic, so it makes her death completely pointless and avoidable.
The tragic undoing of a character who doesn’t deserve it is a great feature of comedy. From slipping on a banana skin up to elaborately plotted films, it’s a well used source of laughter. Only it’s not her we’re laughing it. She has our utter sympathy. We are shocked and upset for her. It’s the unfairness of HIS situation that is the focus.
This poor bloke was only being a bit of a dick. He didn’t deserve to have his girlfriend killed. And certainly not over something so stupid as a plastic spider. Then the real punchline comes when the spider becomes his downfall as well. The dramatic crescendo has been reached, the punchline is the slapstick needle, and the opening sentence is paid off.
I must say, I laughed at it.
But then I felt bad. Because life really is like this sometimes.
Like I say, pitch black comedy.
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