You Don’t Want to Know
April 4, 2010
Robert Carlyle is once again to grace our cinema screens, and all because of Justin Kerrigan’s burning desire to tell a deeply personal (and so, self-serving) story about the special relationship he shared with his father. Straddling a multitude of genres from dramatic thriller to coming of age weepie, I Know You Know (2008) is as deeply confused about its own generic identity as its central character is about the boundaries between fiction and reality.
Carlyle plays Charlie, a man whose mind is at the precipice of sanity; failing to comes to terms with a bleak reality. Convinced he is under surveillance both in and out of his home, Charlie can’t help but involve his son Jamie in his crazed world of conspiracy. Loyal to his father, Jamie is something of a curious and disobedient child which only serves to further entangle him in Charlie’s complex web of plot and intrigue. Promising Jamie a new life and a slice of ‘American Dream’ pie, it understandably follows that Jamie, young and impressionable, falls for his father’s story, hook, line and sinker. Although ultimately, mustering up a little savvy, he comes to realise that the enemy exists only in Charlie’s head. What follows is the exploration of a young boy’s coming of age experience as it parallels the coming apart of his mentally unstable father’s mind. Just as Charlie must learn to face reality, Jamie must now face the world.
Although the premise for the film is not entirely without merit, I Know You Know is, sadly, unable to sustain even its short 81 minute run time, failing at every turn to engage or affect. A large proportion of the cast struggle with the Welsh accent, not least protagonists Carlyle and kid newcomer Arron Fuller. As one of the most difficult accents for a non-native actor to achieve, it makes one wonder why Kerrigan preferenced ‘a name’ over a suitable cast? One can only assume it is because he hoped the pull of Carlyle would distract from his own substandard screenplay and direction. But alas, Carlyle’s acting isn’t exactly up to scratch either which, for everyone concerned, is indeed a crying shame. The use of non-diegetic music is heavy handed and over sentimentalises anything that might otherwise constitute a heartfelt moment.
Unashamedly aspiring towards being the best British film release for 2010, I Know You Know is just another contender that wildly misses the mark. Writer/director Justin Kerrigan, by his own assertion it would seem, can’t decide upon the film’s identity, “This is my funny, heartfelt, fast-paced, adrenalin-rushed coming of age film.” The attempt to embrace so many different styles/adhere to a variety of generic codes, has achieved nothing more than a schizophrenic yet undeniably average film. Instantly forgettable, it fails miserably to hit even one of the disparate tonal qualities its generic hybridity boasts. An unfortunate exercise in filmmaking, I’d suggest Kerrigan stick with pop culture and stay well away from stories with sentiment.