This unashamedly unpolished comedy drama follows two neurotic 30-something sisters, Lisa (Alice Lowe) and Claire (Dolly Wells), who are on the run after messing up an attempt to steal a JCB digger.
They “borrow” a car to make their escape but, as it turns out, it belonged to a pair of renowned progressive poets called the Wilding Sisters who were supposed to be the guests of honour at the Poet’s Poetry Society retreat in the Welsh countryside. Impulsively, they decide to assume the identities of the two famous sisters at the retreat, where they do their best to avoid being found out, while also getting romantically involved with one of the residents (Downton Abbey’s Tom Cullen).
The final part of the thematically linked Modern Romance Trilogy by British director Jamie Adams (the others being Benny & Jolene and A Wonderful Christmas Time) was almost entirely improvised. This gives it a pleasingly unpredictable, naturalistic comedic sensibility.
The characters are not always the most likeable of people and that sometimes means feeling a lack of sympathy towards them whenever things turn from playfully messing around, to something a bit more meaningful. But their selfish, often childlike behaviour ultimately speaks of sibling rivalry and what can happen when attention from outside the relationship gets thrust on either of them.
Although shot in a mere five days, the chemistry between Alice Lowe and Dolly Wells is palpable – they’re an effective double-act that are at once funny, poignant and most importantly believable as sisters. While Tom Cullen brings a compelling tenderness to being very much the straight man in this particular trio.
The director is clearly having a lot of fun in this often cinematically unexplored and patently off-kilter world of post-modern poetry. Even though it occasionally lapses into caricature in how it portrays the self-important and overly manufactured personalities of its adherents, there’s a general sense of good-will and affection towards them, too.
It’s far from perfect; the ultra-loose structure and low stakes for the central characters ultimately makes it feel like a journey without a destination in mind. YetBut this endearingly offbeat and thoroughly British farce provides small pleasures in spades and is a telling sign that improvised comedy is still a valid approach to storytelling.