Taking Stock is a new comedy-drama film by award-winning filmmaker Maeve Murphy. I attended its pre-release screening. This independent film, shot in London, is aesthetically appealing and beautifully directed with attractive performances, notably by the lead actress Kelly Brook and by Scot Williams. The film epitomises modern British cinema which is real yet so elegant that we see a London we have forgotten to notice everyday. Through her fine filmmaking, Murphy puts the ordinary as well as the grand streets of London out on a showcase for future filmmakers.
The film centres around one of the most politically debated issues of our times: recession and unemployment. But through comedy, it defies the scare-stories from general election debates to show that if you want to change your life then "go and do something about it! Get a job!" It brings together humour, real-life stories and romance amongst other things.
Kate (Kelly Brook), an out-of-work actress, works at an arty furniture shop along with two other colleagues, and between them it's all about having a good time. Her life changes as Christina (Lorna Brown), the shop owner and Mat (Scot Williams), her accountant, break the news that the shop is closing at the end of the week with no redundancy package. Fate becomes unkind to Kate. On her way back home, her boyfriend is found ready to drive away with his new girlfriend. Upset, she tries to roast head in the oven only to find that the gas has been disconnected because "the bastard" didn't pay the bills. Clearly, the only way she can find out of all this is her obsession with the Bonnie & Clyde story; fantasising herself to be Bonnie Parker so she could rob the shop on its last day.
Mat is uptight and rather formal with the staff, and is mocked by them when not around. As the closing-down date draws near, Kate tries to become close to him as he initially resists her, but the playful relationship that develops between them is comical, and filled with romantic and sexual tension. The shop's safe is loaded with cash, and Kate tries her best to entice Mat to reveal the code, but what happens at the end is what this film is worth watching for; a money-chasing scene on the streets of London never seen before.
Around this story of shop robbery, the film intertwines as many as seven stories that run in parallel with heart-warming performances. Some of these performances are as follows. Christina (Lorna Brown) is a stubborn boss; she is gorgeously dressed. Her large gold earring with a map of the African continent is characteristically bold as is her reality which she talks about on the closing-down day. Her brief singing in the pub on that day is moving. Yoichi (Junichi Kajioka) is always found enjoying a cup of tea or eating sushi on the back-stairs of a building. He is the central "voice of wisdom" in the film who shows Kate that what seems to be the easiest way out (the robbery) is not often the safest and the best way. He is one of the most likeable characters of the film.
Nick (Jay Brown), one of the shop staff finds Mat too robotic and loves to mock him, but he also has a personal need which gets him involved in the robbery. In the middle of all these stories of humour, madness, robbery, wisdom, realisation and love, Maeve Murphy portrays the diversity of London with a candid romanticism.
Finally, this review cannot be complete without mentioning that Kelly Brook plays a very authentic character: in her loss, her madness, Bonnie Parker obsession and finally in some romance. Kelly is candidly gorgeous. Scott Williams' performance is powerful and appealing; he is a fine British actor whom we deserve to watch in more films. In Taking Stock, he is intense, funny and romantic.