Orchid Moon


‘…Orchid Moon manages to dodge many of the clichés that have made British crime movies a moribund genre…’

Back on the indie beat, this time in the UK rather than the US; writer and director Lewis William Robinson has made his first feature film on the mean streets of Harrogate, and it’s an impressive first effort that’s worth a look. It’s increasingly hard to get a film seen on streaming platforms in 2023, with most streaming services relying on the libraries of major studios and their own generated content; trying to connect up films to viewers is part of what we do, and Orchid Moon’s reflective view of a man in torment has enough originality to recommend.

Jake Waring plays Harry Bradshaw, a young man with plenty of issues; we see him being refused service in his local bar, and even getting turfed out by barman Geoff (Grahame Edwards) for being an obnoxious drunk and bringing the tone down. Gradually we get some idea of why Harry is in such a decline; his partner Clementine (Nicole Evans) is not longer around, and he contemplates suicide at a local beauty spot. Instead Harry strikes up a last-gasp relationship with Anna (Alice Fforde) in an It’s A Wonderful Life scenario, but can Harry start again, or is he carrying too much baggage from his past to save himself?

‘Don’t manipulate a madman into madness’; Harry warns, and Orchid Moon’s black and white photography manages to give a sheen to the raw, ragged edges of Harry’s collapsing worldview. This is very much a noir film, and there’s also lapses into masked criminal activity that Harry can’t seem to keep himself away from to impede his emotional progress. Orchid Moon encroaches on the territory of Luc Besson’s Leon or The Professional, in which a man’s emotional growth and potential for self-development are set against the violent background he just can’t quite shake.

A low-budget film that clocks in at about 70 minutes, Orchid Moon manages to dodge many of the clichés that have made British crime movies a moribund genre; it’s more in the vibe of Christopher Nolan’s Following, in which the audience have to figure out exactly who is doing what to whom. There’s also a few other clichés which probably needed freshening up; I never want to see two people arguing while one packs a suitcase on a bed again, although Ruchika Jain’s agreeably supportive but frustrated Mrs Chanda helps the scene make its point.

Dr Who fans will enjoy seeing Frazer Hines as gangster Eddie Costello, and for a film largely shot in and outside a pub in Harrogate, Orchid Moon has no right to look as good as it does. The blend of grim fantasy and even grimmer reality works, and Waring does a good job of suggesting his character’s inner turmoil. Thoughtful and serious when most British crime dramas are exploitative, crude and jokey, Orchid Moon manages to be more than the sum of its parts, and marks Robinson and Waring out as genuine talents to watch.


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  1. Unless it was an issue of finance, I never understand why directors want to make things difficult. Black and white, 70 mins long? Where is it going to get shown except some arcane festival? I thought the whole suitcase trope had been upended some while back when a character jumped into one – or it that my imagination? Honestly, I couldn’t summon up the energy to track this down.

    • That may have been your imagination, I can’t recall the film. A few years ago, I’d have been against the 70 min runtime, but the streaming era means that a film really doesn’t have to fit tv schedules anymore. But I agree about black and white, it does look good, but seems to be a massive turn-off for viewers. Although maybe the potential audience is small enough that it doesn’t matter. Anyway, if I’d made this, I’d be stoked with it, it’s got good acting and a neat noir premise, so it’ll do for a calling card and hopefully on to better things.

        • Well spotted, I think I blanked these movies out…reviewing a 30 min ‘movie’ soon…

  2. Is the whole film in black and white?
    While thoughtful is always nice, it seems like the director could have picked someone else besides a drunken criminal to be thoughtful about…

    • That is a fair point, although that kind of character has been a staple of cinema for about 100 years. But even running a black and white still lowers the clickrate, which I wish more directors understood. This film looks great for the money, but the trade-off is that a lot of people don’t like the monochrome.

    • In terms of watching films, many many times. It does my nut in. In Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam, there’s a scene like this that goes on for five mins. I’m a bit touchy on this, but I’m fed up with seeing this particular trope, it been happening in movies since the 1920’s and never seems to stop. It has not happened to me.

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