Starring: Drew Horner, Rotimi Pearce, Grace Parry
Director: Dominic Jackson
Running Time: 81 mins
Polar is a British film about a slacker who, despite his creative talents and affable personality, struggles to hold down a job or a relationship. But as he grows older, he begins to find a way onto the right track.
Low-budget mumblecore movies can be so difficult to get right. After all, minimal production values and quiet, unspectacular dialogue doesn’t sound all that impressive. But Polar, as the lowest of low budget films, pulls it off surprisingly well, delivering engaging and heartwarming drama alongside charismatic and enjoyable humour.
On the surface, it’s a simple tale of a slacker trying to find his place in the world. Despite his own talents and a supportive best friend, he can’t seem to succeed at anything, no matter how he tries.
In that, Polar uses mumblecore to great effect, portraying our main man in a sympathetic light as we understand his thought processes and day-to-day activities. That may seem unremarkable at first, but it really makes a difference in getting to grips with what sort of a person he really is.
The effectiveness of the technique is clear as day come the end of the film. At first, you might not think much of the main character, but by the end, you’ve spent time with him and learnt about him, developing a strong connection that helps you to fully understand his situation.
To an extent, that redemption of his reputation is the film’s most surprising and heartwarming theme. It shows that, while he may not be conventionally successful, his intentions and perspectives on the world are honest and well-meaning, endearing you to him enormously as the story unfolds.
The depth and effect of the film’s drama is hugely impressive, especially for a genre often so dull as mumblecore. But what’s even more remarkable about Polar is the way it was made on such a low budget.
Budgeted at just £100 (yes, one hundred), the way this film looks, develops and grabs you is almost beyond belief. Of course, with a group of friends participating together, some conventional budgetary requirements of bigger movies might not be needed. But still, to make such a good movie with so little money is nothing short of exceptional.
Polar doesn’t even look like an amateur movie. From excellent cinematography to great editing and engaging performances, I regularly forgot that I was watching a low-budget film, a vote of confidence in this movie that I can’t say I’ve given to any other of a similar background.
Overall, I was hugely impressed by Polar. A marvel of low-budget cinema, it’s both an impressive achievement as well as a gripping, engaging drama. With strong directing, performances, editing and engrossing themes, it’s one of the few mumblecore films that genuinely works, and that’s why I’m giving it 7.4.