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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2004!
FREEZE FRAME, 2004
Cast: Lee Evans, Sean McGinley, Ian McNeice, Colin Salmon, Rachael Stirling, Rachel O'Riordan, Andrew Wilson, Andrea Grimason, Martin McSharry, Gabriella Henriette, Emily Anthony
Ten years ago, after being accused of a hideous murder of a mother and her twin daughters, Sean Veil became paranoid, filming himself along twenty-four hours a day to have an alibi if necessary. The small time psychologist Saul Seger became a famous forensic profiler and writer with the case and every now and then he accuses Sean Veil of the crime. The reporter Katie Carter believes in Sean's innocence. When the body of the missing Mary Shaw is found, Sean has to prove where he was five years ago. However, the tapes that can prove that he is not guilty have mysteriously disappeared from the storage shelf and Sean suspects that Saul has stolen them to incriminate him.
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Freeze Frame is has all the great elements of British cinema, its low budget, has big ideas and is slightly odd and eccentric in its execution. In that sense itís something of a wolf in sheepís clothing. Novice director, John Simpson clearly has some American influence the in the way he has shot and styled the film which makes it stand out from the otherwise repetitive landscape of British gangster and romantic comedies. And having littered it with a host of recognisable British faces, not least the surprising lead of stand-up comedian Lee Evans, the result is a consummate picture that lingers in the mind for various reasons.
Evans plays Sean Veil, a highly strung, very paranoid individual, who, after being accused of murder ten years ago has since undertaken the task of filming every moment of his life. He thinks itís the only way he can safely provide an alibi for Ďforcesí that he believes are trying to pin something on him.
Itís the tenth anniversary of the case he was implicated in and the psychologist Saul Seger, who profiled the killer originally, has released a book about his work. Sean confronts the man at a book event, shouting claims of conspiracy. After being ejected a local reporter approaches Veil, claiming to believe his side of events.
Aside from all this is the discovery of a womenís body. The police implicate Veil in the murder. Naturally their approach is treated with contempt by Sean, but trusting his strange methods of filming his life he thinks he can account for the time they believe the woman was murdered. In twisting the tale the tapes arenít there in Seanís dungeon-like-dwelling, and the police have no choice but to arrest him.
From then on Sean has the job of trying to prove his innocence, the police trying to pin him down then out of the blue the reporter reveals information which send the plot spiralling out of control. Aside from the odd character behaviour of Sean, and the highly stylised look of the film which are both intriguing, it is the essential question of whether or not Sean is guilty that keeps you hooked. I f there had there not been that building up throughout, then the initial impact that the exploration of Seanís dungeon and method of filming himself wouldíve quickly subsided.
As it was all this added to the dark atmosphere, which kind of hinged the central performance of Sean, played well by Lee Evans. While this wasnít his first foray into acting itís certainly one of his more leftfield roles. A break from the slapstick he had become akin to. Many have reported that it is a very different role for him, but I think his energy and oddness is utilised in just the right way here, though obviously some may not be able to get past the stark appearance.
Overall Freeze Frame is a gripping thriller, but its vibrant imagery give it an edge to other similar films, and while plaudits may go slightly too far in rewarding those involved, particularly lead actor Evans, for operating beyond their comfort zone, itís still one of the more memorable British films of the decade.
Review by Stefan Leverton 22/02/10