Three and Out

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LONDON -- Suicide is played for laughs in Jonathan Gershfield's odd little British film "Three and Out," in which a subway train driver is told that if a third person goes under his wheels in a month he can retire with a huge payoff.

Part black comedy and part family drama, the film's dodgy setup undermines what becomes an involving story with appealing stars. The film is quirky enough to spark some interest beyond home shores but is more likely to thrive on DVD.

Skeletal "Pirates of the Caribbean" crew member Mackenzie Crook stars as the miserable and gullible London Underground driver whose eagerness to flee the crowded capital leads him to seek out someone predisposed to ending his life so he can cash in.

That turns out to be a genial wino played by Colm Meaney, who makes a pact with the driver providing he can first make a trip north to see his abandoned ex-wife (Imelda Staunton) and daughter (Gemma Arterton).

Writers Steve Lewis and Tony Owen seem more confident with the family drama than the tasteless premise, and veterans Meaney and Staunton turn the battling ex-spouses into credible characters.

With his vulnerable physiognomy and earnest delivery, Crook makes an agreeably hapless hero, and Arterton shows she can be more than a pinup from "St. Trinian's."

Trevor Jones contributes a lively score, and the soundtrack features songs by Elvis Costello, Juliette Lewis, Blondie and Billy Bragg. However, Gershfield can't overcome the morbid threat that hangs over the story, and the resultant tone is inevitably downbeat.

THREE AND OUT
Worldwide Bonus Entertainment
Rovinge Motion Picture Co.
Credits:
Director: Jonathan Gershfield
Screenwriters: Steve Lewis, Tony Owen
Producers: Ian Harries, Wayne Godfrey
Executive producer: Aaron Gershfield
Director of photography: Richard Greatrex
Production designer: Amanda McArthur
Music: Trevor Jones
Costume designer: Annie Hardinge
Editor: Jon Gregory
Cast:
Paul Callow: Mackenzie Crook
Tommy Cassidy: Colm Meaney
Rosemary Cassidy: Imelda Staunton
Frankie Cassidy: Gemma Arterton
Ash: Rhashan Stone
Vic: Mark Benton
Maurice: Antony Sher
Running time -- 108 minutes
No MPAA rating
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