Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry

This is a film that sounds like it’s a terrible, accountancy-themed 1980s porno, when in fact it’s a BAFTA-nominated piece of art. Which in turn means it’s full of full frontal nudity, auto-erotic asphyxiation and some worrying stuff with sausages. And double entry book keeping, of course.

It wasn’t a commercial sensation when it was released in 2002. One school of thought was that a black comedy about terrorism was never going to do well the year after 9-11. But then this wasn’t really a commercial film. It may have starred Nick Moran, a few years after Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Kate Ashfield, just before she had her defining role in Shaun Of The Dead, but a film that combines lots of accounting procedures with purposely primitive special effects, all based on a story by the highly impenetrable B.S. Johnson, was hardly multiplex fodder.

That said, it’s hardly even available on DVD. Unlike, say, Fight Club, which gradually attained cultural status as a cult film, Christie Malry seemed to have sunk without trace. It’s the kind of film you can’t even find pirate torrents of, that’s how obscure it is.

Fortunately, there was a copy of it languishing in a box of baking tins from when I moved house in 2006, and I rescued the DVD when we visited London at the start of this month. Today I persuaded my wife to watch it with me, after we’d put our little one to bed.

It hasn’t aged well, in some respects. The soundtrack, by Luke Haines, which I adored at the time, now feels too intrusive. That may be because I’ve grown so used to the songs themselves that it feels strange to hear them in the context of a film. The transfer to DVD wasn’t in widescreen (I understand that the even rarer US version is in widescreen, but it omits the director’s commentary, a rare glimpse into the problems of filming a quintessentially British story in Germany for tax reasons) and sometimes the images are too mucky to make out. As opposed to when it’s images of general muckiness, like Kate and Nick and a vacuum cleaner… And the special effects are just as terrible as I remember, even if there is artistic justification for them.

What I’d forgotten is how brutal (and how funny) a film it is. There are two different funerals in twenty minutes, a workplace shooting, a night school class in accountancy, and yet it’s still very, very funny. Not laugh out loud like last night’s Greg Davies DVD, but Malry’s singleminded approach to life, and some of the inspired sound editing (we first see Wagner, one of Malry’s enemies, just as the word "wanker" echoes from the previous scene) make it fun to watch.

It’s not a feel good film. Long before the semi-apocalyptic ending (with one of the best, sickest jokes I remember as a final twist) it’s clear that life is miserable, painful and generally inhabited by ill-informed or unpleasant specimens, except for the lady who chops up sausages for you at the butcher’s. It’s certainly not a good thing to watch if you’re interested in continued employment: it may influence you to say just the wrong thing at your next review meeting.

We made it through the first hour before my wife decided she had to go to bed, rather than stay up and watch more accountancy-related terror. Perhaps we’ll finish up tomorrow and she’ll provide her full judgment.

3 responses to “Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry”

  1. I’ve had a surreal night (see blog) on top of a day fuelled by coffee. This may just tip me over the edge in the where has my grip on reality gone stakes.

    I can see why “It wasn’t a commercial sensation when it was released in 2002.”

    But glad you had a fun night in!

  2. It only got odder as we finished watching it. Probably not suitable for Felicity for a while longer. Unless we suddenly need to dissuade her from a career in accountancy…

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