Funny Cow (2017)38K
Funny Cow: Directed by Adrian Shergold. With Maxine Peake, Macy Shackleton, Ashton Steele, Michael Hughes. A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.
“u0026quot;Itu0026#39;s always been too much for me… life… and not enough. All at the same time…u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eFunny Cow is the tale of fictional female comic, Funny Cow (FC). Itu0026#39;s a piece whose narrative is loosely anchored around occasional footage of FC delivering some sort of u0026#39;For TVu0026#39; career retrospective monologue in which she reflects upon her life and times to date. Going by this particular TV performanceu0026#39;s high production values, it would seem that this is at a point in her life when sheu0026#39;s clearly u0026#39;made itu0026#39;. Whatever that may really mean.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThereu0026#39;s a pervading air of melancholy about it all, something that is very much prevalent in this Adrian Shergold film which traces FCu0026#39;s life from its poverty-stricken beginnings, through the frustrations of an abusive marriage, to her eventual breakthrough success (and beyond) as a female comedian.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe child of an alcoholic mother and abusive father, comedy had always been the perfect outlet for FC, but itu0026#39;s only ultimately through a combination of perseverance and a bitter-sweet twist of fate that she finally gets a chance to prove her worth.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThough the backstory of Shergoldu0026#39;s film is to some extent one of developing the courage to shoot for the stars, Funny Cow is just as concerned with the concept of female empowerment, and examining lifeu0026#39;s myriad struggles and the ties that so often bind us, whether we would choose them to or not.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Confucius say: He who drop watch down toilet have shitty time…u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe 1970u0026#39;s northern working class setting and brash sense of old fashioned humour lends Funny Cow something of a gritty backdrop, and whether it be racial stereotypes or u0026#39;in-bad-tasteu0026#39; one-liners, considering that we live today in such a timid and easily-offended nanny state, itu0026#39;s actually rather surprising – and refreshing – that so much of a nationally-released filmu0026#39;s shall we say, u0026#39;questionableu0026#39; language and terminology has not been airbrushed from history. Undoubtedly this lends the piece a real sense of authenticity which could so easily have been stripped away, much to the filmu0026#39;s detriment.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThat said, though the more controversial content is at most fleeting, truth be told, this is probably not one for the easily offended or keen advocates of a more modern Sofie Hagen-esque safe-space type of comedy. But that probably goes without saying.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003ePaddy Considineu0026#39;s awkwardly circumspect portrayal of Angus, the arts-loving, book shop owner and FCu0026#39;s woefully mismatched other half for a period of time, is reassuringly solid and understated. Lindsey Coulsonu0026#39;s performance as FCu0026#39;s mother in later life, though not an extended role, is nonetheless arresting for its depth, range and conviction, whilst Alun Armstrongu0026#39;s turn as the tragic, long-in-the-tooth jobbing morose comic, Lenny, is a highly impressive if excruciatingly mournful performance.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd then of course thereu0026#39;s Maxine Peake whose performance as FC wonderfully encapsulates the actions and emotions of a woman who is first to acknowledge that she has never really fitted in, and whose struggles and persistence – not to mention a thicker than average skin – have eventually paid off professionally-speaking.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAlthough there is evidently a part of her that remains unfulfilled and more than a little world-weary, the over-riding impression here is that FC is one lifeu0026#39;s great survivors, who, having been through so much in her life is consequently an emboldened woman, steadfastly refusing to ever even entertain the notion of being considered a victim.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAided by Richard Hawleyu0026#39;s sympathetic soundtrack, Adrian Shergold expertly straddles the line between good and bad taste, between tragedy and triumph, and between tears and substantial laughter, to produce not only a film that is genuinely funny, but one which is thoughtful and emotionally engaging too.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis and hundreds of other films are reviewed on my WaywardWolfBlog”