Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee -- Film Review

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EDINBURGH -- Having established himself as perhaps the most interesting of the U.K.'s younger filmmakers with "Dead Man's Shoes," "This Is England" and last year's "Somers Town," Nottingham-based Shane Meadows can be forgiven for blowing off a little creative steam with the likably scrappy little no-budgeter "Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee."

A faux fly-on-the-wall doc about a delusional, obnoxious rock-roadie, it's a minor footnote in what's shaping up into a considerable career. The film is, for all its unassuming rough-edged charm, essentially a one-joke enterprise stretched to bare-minimum feature length. The intermittent presence of the U.K.'s leading rock act Arctic Monkeys (as themselves) notwithstanding, the film has only marginal commercial prospects even within the country but should amply recoup its tiny budget on small screens, including perhaps as a download for new media.

A throwback to the cheeky early-'90s video-shot efforts that made Meadows' name, "Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee" sees Paddy Considine returning to the fold after appearances in such high-profile Hollywood fare as "Cinderella Man" and "The Bourne Ultimatum."

The character of Le Donk, an immature, perennially beanie-hatted thirtysomething of mercurial temperament, was created by Considine and Meadows during the early stages of their long working relationship. He has been revived here under a Dogme-style scheme devised by the director to promote features shot in only five days.

The technical limitations resulting from the ultraquick shooting schedule prove well suited to the basic concept, as we watch Meadows (playing himself) following his supposed acquaintance Le Donk with a shoulder-mounted camera unit. Donk (real name Nicholas, nickname never explained) is observed both in his haphazard domestic arrangements -- he's about to become a father but has broken up with the mother of his imminent child -- and also at work, where, in addition to his roadie duties, he fancies himself as a music-biz svengali.

His latest protege is the movies-inspired Nottinghamshire rapper known as Scor-Zay-Zee (playing himself.) A portly young fellow whose somewhat cartoonish rap-attire belies genuine abilities with the microphone, Scor-Zay-Zee doesn't seem too concerned by Le Donk's glaring inadequacies. His faith is repaid when his "boss" (implausibly) secures him an early warm-up slot at an outdoor Manchester gig -- evidently real -- headlined by the red-hot Arctic Monkeys. Mild chaos ensues.

Although essentially a showcase for Considine's invective-laden improv, the substance of the picture is Le Donk's spiky relationships with Meadows and Scor-Zay-Zee. The former wryly explores the tricky interface between a documentary-maker and his subject, while the latter is a classically droll "odd-couple" straight-man/funny-man setup, one that would be familiar to even the earliest vaudevillians.

Venue: Edinburgh International Film Festival
Production: Warp X (Sheffield)
Cast: Paddy Considine, Scor-Zay-Zee (aka Dean Palinczuk), Olivia Colman, Richard Graham, Seamus O'Neil
Director: Shane Meadows
Screenwriters: Paddy Considine, Shane Meadows
Producer: Mark Herbert
Directors of photography: Dean Rogers, Shane Meadows
Editor: Richard Graham
Sales: Warp X, Sheffield
No rating, 71 minutes