While Storm Abigail had caused mayhem with flooding outside last night, the only place in town to be was Cineworld Falkirk for the premiere of Haggis Western Films’ latest feature The Last Love Letter.
A highly entertaining film with plenty of mayhem to equal Abigail – it’s Sergio Leone meets Quentin Tarantino, in Falkirk.
Love Letter is the first of a trilogy but actor, writer and director Simon Gillespie (41) will struggle to find a whole new cast because most of this one get brutally killed in a bloodthirsty tale of revenge and vigilante justice.
It’s an outstanding effort on a budget of zero, although I did hear on the night that Gillespie did have to fork out £300 for a new pair of falsers for one of the extras after he knocked them out and lost them during one of the scenes.
Cineworld was packed to the rafters and take nothing away from those involved, this movie was two years in the making with the cast and crew fitting shooting around day jobs, families and other commitments.
It really is a tribute to the sheer passion, commitment and downright determination it must take to produce a quality feature for the big screen. I doff my hat.
The plot follows the life of Steve Brody (played by Gillespie), a fireman, who has a dark secret from his past which is now coming back to haunt him – with a vengeance.
His life is falling apart and shady stranger John Abbott (Craig Seath) promises to bring some equilibrium to his misery, however, he has a malevolent agenda that will bring about the unhinged Steve’s destruction.
It’s not all murder and mayhem though as there’s a perfect amount of humour to keep the audience ticking along with the film, which is a slow burner.
The bit where a camp hairdresser has his, ahem, more tender parts thrust between the tongs of a pair of GHD straighteners provided a cinema-full of laughs. I’d love to know how they got the prop for the end of this scene.
Gillespie’s reaction when a woman throws up on him – nothing to do with his dodgy chat-up lines I’m sure – is well judged. To be fair, three of them had assaulted and kidnapped her and were about to tie the poor soul up to force information out of her so he couldn’t really moan at a “wee bit of vomit”.
Gillespie’s love of spaghetti westerns isn’t just limited to the company’s name. Throughout the film there’s little subtle reminders such as a poster for a Charles Bronson movie and the cover of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly appears in the background of another shot.
The sound, done by Barry Frame of the Audio Clinic – who also plays Steve’s brother – is impeccable and really brings the movie alive.
Barry’s talents don’t stop at sound directing either, he’s a pretty decent actor who looked very comfortable and natural on screen.
There’s another family connection through Barry’s brother James who co-directs the film.
Stuart Hall, the communications and marketing guy from Forth Valley College does a good turn as wll. He plays Steve’s boss at the fire station (Slamannan’s) like an old pro. Sorry about the ‘old’ Stuart, but it’s a compliment.
Linzi Bayne, who owns the La Banca restaurant in Vicar Street, also played her part surprisingly well for someone with no acting experience and provided the location in her restaurant for one of the scenes.
A good example of local businesses supporting the arts in Falkirk, as is Cineworld’s manager Gareme Murray, who provided two cincema screens for the evening.
Other main characters who helped pull it all together were Kim Shepherd as Joan; Alan McNeil as Hernandes; Jacqueline Walker (Emily Brody); Iona Turnbull (the Seductress); Erin Kelly (Jennifer); Alsion Denham (Rachel); Leanne Walker (Susan); Rosie Willis (Alison); Ian Leslie (Jim); Scott Gillespie; Rio Brady; Aliyaah e Torri; Jasmine Davies; Eve Summers; Chris Scott; Scott McNeil; Simon and Scott Ross; Ashley McGregor; Tori McCulloch; Jimmy Frame; Lesley Fletcher; and the late Oweni O’Hanlon.
The title theme tune, written by Gillespie, is a terrific track, very haunting and could do well on its own. It’s performed brilliantly by the well known Dionne Hickey who also appears on screen.
And last, and very much least, yours truly was given a cameo part playing a drunk who is escorted off the premises in the restaurant scene in La Banca. Some would say the part was perfect for me but I did have years of research for my 30-second walk-on.
If you missed it, don’t worry, Haggis Westerns is planning another screening for February before taking the movie to film festivals.