James McAvoy and the Viet Cong…

Glasgow Noir. A surprisingly small genre. The city lends itself to the dark shadows, dodgy characters and indecipherable dialogue that noir demands. I don’t doubt that one of the reasons for Taggart’s success (see 100 murrrderrrs and counting… ) is down to the noirish qualities of the city of Glasgow.

The Near Room was released in 1995, and disappeared about a week later. I saw it at a Friday night late show at the ABC in the slot they used to put ‘cult’ films. I remember it as being rather good, so was pleased when it was recently released on DVD. Directed and starring David Hayman, the strong cast also includes a young Julie Graham, Tom Watson, David O’Hara, the always excellent Adrian Dunbar, Andy Serkis and the first on film appearance of Mr Tumnus himself, little James McAvoy.

It is undoubtedly dark. Set in the underground world of pornography,drugs and prostitution the film revels in the seedier side of life, as is only right for noir. I haven’t seen it since ’95, but I’m going to be showing it this Friday at Glasgow University’s Scottish Film Society and I’m hoping that my memory of it holds up. I have it in my mind that it is beautifully shot, so dark in some scenes as to be almost pitch, and that it’s a genuinely thrilling film. Below is a rare clip, including some excellent swearing. It features McAvoy, and suggests that he has a portrait in his attic as he doesn’t seem to have aged in the last 15 years:

This is a Glasgow film that avoids many of the cliches that you may expect. It uses the city, but is not a slave to its reputation. If you like your cinema to unsettle, then you should have a look at The Near Room.

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