The Waiting Room
Roger Goldby / UK / 2007
Ralf Little’s manhood is a harbinger of something special in The Waiting Room. It’s not so much the member itself that impresses but after years of coasting along post-Royal Family, seeing (any of) him in anything other than Two Pints of Lager (And a packet of crisps) – that BBC 3 television ‘comedy’ show that refuses to expire - reminds one that he’s still really rather promising when he’s allowed to show parts of himself you might not normally be used to seeing.
An almost good bittersweet romance about discontented love in London, The Waiting Room shows promise for the director and writer Roger Goldby. It’s the usual southern-urban based middle class navel gazing centred around a potential romance between Little’s character Stephen and Marie-Ann Duff’s Anna. Stephen has a domineering girlfriend who’s more keen than he is to have kids; Anna’s a single mother reduced to bonking the married neighbour next door. Little’s instant charisma lights up the screen to such an extent that you wonder where he’s been all this time. And he’s not the only strong presence here. Ably cast, The Waiting Room is supported by talent such as Rupert Graves, Zoe Telford, Phyllida Law and Adrian Bower.
What impresses are all these wispy little moments where the barely conceived romance starts to emerge between the leads after a brief meeting at a train station. They spend the rest of the film thinking about each other amidst their poxy little lives. It’s charming in a very fragile way as Little and Duff interact in each other’s imaginations – Little dancing in front of a mirror in his flat loses himself in the music and finds Duff dancing with him or Duff talking to Little in the park for example. The way Goldby makes this credible despite the leads barely meeting is touching.
Regrettably though, to allow the leads to actually meet requires a crushingly clichéd introduction and coda – at a railway station. It’s all too cosy with the old people at the home Little’s character works at getting involved to facilitate the plot. Yuck! It’s unfair to ruin the ending here given that the film hasn’t been released at the time of writing but suffice to say, it looks like it’s going to go one way perfectly in keeping with the light touch and then we get the reverse at the last moment.
Still at least Hampstead Heath isn’t in this one, although there is plenty of park action. So, an almost great wry love story, let down by expectation and cliché and old people, but behind all this a clever film which carries potential for the director.