There's considerably more rhyme than reason in musician-turned-filmmaker Johnny Daukes' debut feature, "Acts of Godfrey," a strained exercise in dramaturgical gimmickry that would be trying even as fringe theater. Charting assorted shady dealings between participants at a sales seminar, with Simon Callow's fruity God-as-Cupid figure pulling the marionette strings, this beige-hued pic is distinguished by Daukes' brave but thematically random decision to write the script entirely in rhyming couplets. Results don't match Sally Potter's iambic pentameter experiment "Yes," particularly when rhyming "vexed" with "Posh and Becks." Already scarcely attended in Blighty, the film looks unlikely to travel far.

There’s considerably more rhyme than reason in musician-turned-filmmaker Johnny Daukes’ debut feature, “Acts of Godfrey,” a strained exercise in dramaturgical gimmickry that would be trying even as fringe theater. Charting assorted shady dealings between participants at a sales seminar, with Simon Callow’s fruity God-as-Cupid figure pulling the marionette strings, this beige-hued pic is distinguished by Daukes’ brave but thematically random decision to write the script entirely in rhyming couplets. Results don’t match Sally Potter’s iambic pentameter experiment “Yes,” particularly when rhyming “vexed” with “Posh and Becks.” Already scarcely attended in Blighty, the film looks unlikely to travel far.

Never leaving the grounds of a generously advertised country hotel, the action centers on supposed sexual tension between schlubby Scottish rep Vic (Iain Robertson, surviving verse and full-frontal nudity) and vixenish estate agent Mary (Myfanwy Waring), with sketchily complicated sideshows involving Cockney gangsters, milquetoast con men and a date-rape drug called Poke. That Callow’s cream-clad deity needs the latter of these to ignite the couple doesn’t say much for the film’s vague, fatalistic theorizing. Tech credits are pedestrian, with Daukes’ over-jaunty score at odds with Stuart Graham’s washed-out lensing.

Acts of Godfrey

U.K.

Production

A Guerilla Films release of an Acts of Godfrey production. Produced by Tony Schlesinger. Directed, written by Johnny Daukes.

Crew

Camera (color), Stuart Graham; editor, Gary Dollner; music, Daukes; production designer, Michael Mulligan; costume designer, Jacky Levy. Reviewed at Vue Shepherds Bush, London, Feb. 5, 2012. Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Iain Robertson, Myfanwy Waring, Simon Callow, Harry Enfield, Shobu Kapoor, Michael Wildman, Doon Mackichan, Celia Imrie, Max Digby, Jay Simpson, Ian Burfield.

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