If I wanted to pick out two of the most unglamorous and boring things in the World, there's a fair chance that Bingo and Wales would be pushing at the top of my list. Yet Kemp has somehow managed to transform this terrifying premise into a solid comedy that keeps you interested and amused throughout.Starting with a classic Tarantino pastiche and featuring the lovely Kelly MacDonald (flower of Scotland, yadda, yadda, yadda) it is soon obvious that this isn't your typical lottery funded mishap. Despite Kemps previous directorships of Blabbermouth & Stickybeak and Roger and the Rottentrolls, in this film he has managed to inject a sense of life and excitement into the dullest of premises.
Al lot of the credit must go to first time writer Sutton, who has takes this story of the troubles of a small Bingo Hall in south Wales and weaves a tapestry both realistic and fantastic. Focusing on Linda (MacDonald), and the troubles she experiences when her mother dies, her aunt tries to reposess her house, and the Bingo Hall where she works gets competition from a new Mega-Bingo hall. OK, OK, so you're not excited yet, but the twists are a real treat and you get drawn in.
MacDonald proves that she is still a rising star, and despite my first sharp intake of breath when her Welsh accent is revealed, I found myself accepting it quite happily after a scene or two. Hughes proves that he is capable of making the leap to the Big Screen after considerable acclaim on the telly (for series 'This Life'). The rest of the cast are fine, and there is a great little cameo from Keith Chegwin.
Of course, the main problem is whether this can ever hope to cross-over to America. Whilst everyone can associate with the out of work Steel workers in The Full Monty, I'm not sure whether they have even heard of Bingo over there. Likewise, Cheggers will just appear as an irritating squeaky bloke, and his appearance will be lost.
Yet I feel that Kemp manages to cram in enough excitement into his direction to rule this over. I don't want to say 'Sumptuous Visual Feast', but he gives you far more than you could possibly have been expecting. And the film is so well constructed that even an avowed Bingo hater can get involved - I was routing away for the 'La Scala' Bingo Hall and shaking my head at the soulessness of the big chain rival. Perhaps this gives an insight into a world so often ignored by 'Cool Britannia' that reminds us of our traditions.Definitely quirky, and no-ones idea of a main-stream hit, this film has a bit of magic about it to make it well worth watching. Hopefully all involved will go onto bigger and better things, and this will herald a new direction in British film-making where quality is more important than marketability.