Surrealist black comedy debut from director Max McGill, Hot Property follows a drug-addled corporate spy and her avant-garde chef boyfriend as they attempt to save their luxury London apartment from their debt collectors. Lee reviews.
Surrealist comedy and black comedy make for much of a blurred line, for what is a surrealist comedy if not exposure to the absurd, and what is the absurd if not but an inversion of our poor linear sense of reality? Ultimately, it tends to get a little dark, and what could be darker than a hell-scape reality run by property-hoarding chic hipsters and pseudo-journalists fighting to stake a low rung on a capitalist ladder? Not much, admittedly.
Hot Property is almost certain to be the favourite film of about two or three incredibly well informed people who love to relish in the sheer hypocrisy of the Great Battle for Redundancy that our current media-saturated world incites, epitomised here by a Saturday Morning Cartoon version of 21st century London and fair enough. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a movie that so accurately portrays the soullessness and inhumanity of the waging forces that play in the warped minds of those whose only interactions are through flashy headlines and Facetime.
A maddeningly absurdist plot, in which one horrible person and her horrible sexy chef boyfriend have to defend their high-end London flat from horrible exterior forces by any means necessary, even though they rightfully blow their stake when their rent money is spent on blow – it’s frustratingly without a person to root for, which is also fair enough. Most will prefer to see their parties on trial before sentenced to guilt, but if you’re already in the know – très chic by the way – then you’ll likely be chuffed to skim the introduction and get straight into the chastising.
The most important saving grace, one that prevents the film from immediately jumping into ‘who cares?’ territory, is that it is genuinely funny. Simple visual comedy, puns, an imprecise and hilarious habit of calling kettles black, Fawlty Towers-esque side characters and a simply grasp of the absurd helps defend the film from accusations of taking itself, and its subject matter, too seriously. For the most part, anyway.
We still spend too long trying to sympathise with our unsympathisable lead, the plot gets too twisty for its own good and, at the heart of it, it’s actually far more conventional in its telling than it perhaps should have been, even trying to create arcs for its characters. If you want to get surreal, get surreal – don’t cater to that audience that simply isn’t going to get it anyway.
A more than fair effort that few are going to appreciate, but Hot Property is a wholly original movie that is unlike any comedy you have ever seen – for better and for worse. The kind of delirious trip you’ll recall years after watching and remain unconvinced you didn’t dream it all up yourself – how surreal.
[Hot Property is screening in the UK from 1st August 2017 at select cinemas]