SXSW FILM 2012
By Don Simpson | March 18, 2012
Directors: Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe
Writers: Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe
Starring: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley, Will Sharpe, Anna O’Grady, Helen Cripps, Bernadette Russell, Arnab Chanda, Sophia Di Martino, Arthur Tatsuki Sharpe, Elisabeth Vriend
Thanks to talking head interviews with members of the Thompson family and clippings from tabloid newspapers, we quickly learn that the Thompson clan is better known as “a family of killers.” The main narrative of Black Pond is constructed in a web of flashbacks in order to explain the events that earned them this title.
On one fateful day, Tom Thompson (Chris Langham) meets Blake (Colin Hurley). Blake is a socially awkward bloke, but Tom immediately senses a unique kinship with him. With his long term marriage to Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) frustratingly stagnated, Tom would appreciate having a companion to chat with, so he brings Blake home for tea…and tea turns into a night of drunken revelry. Drunk and afraid of the dark, Blake stays the night at the Thompson’s house.
The next morning Blake finds Boy, the Thompson’s dog, dead in Black Pond. This brings the Thompson kids — Jess (Helen Cripps) and Katie (Anna O’Grady) — home for Boy’s burial; they bring their doting roommate Tim (Will Sharpe) along for the ride. This last fact is important, since it is Tim who leaks the information to his psycho-therapist, Dr. Sacks (Simon Anstell), that eventually pegs the Thompson clan as killers.
Like a dream about ham sandwiches and broadband, Black Pond is the deftly deadpan directorial debut of Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe. Black Pond takes the shape of a dysfunctional family drama, framed by a Christopher Guest-esque mockumentary. Kingsley and Sharpe’s screenplay relishes in a dry (read: British) and sublimely eccentric sense of humor that keeps its random flights of absurdity reigned in (for the most part). Black Pond is certainly a strange bird, but one that I am happy to have experienced.