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Black Mountain Poets review: enthusiastically off-kilter

March 31, 2016

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Dominic Preston


“We’re just women trying to steal a JCB,” say Claire (Dolly Wells) and Lisa Walker (Alice Lowe), on the lam from the long arm of the law and caught up in criminality. That may be by naivety alone, but these two misfit sisters soon find themselves on an enthusiastically off-kilter jaunt, when they assume the identity of bougier-than-thou poets the Wilding sisters, and find more than they bargain for at a poetry retreat in the Welsh mountainside.

The real Wildings are small celebrities among the dabblers, hobbyists, tag-alongs, and poets that have joined the poetry group, and the Walkers take to their roles with gusto. “We’re con artists,” Lisa rationalises, thinking of the £10,000 poetry prize, but as their overegged attempts at poetry can attest, the problem is that they know very little about it. Their first try involves finger click-accompanied beat poetry repeating ‘words’ and ‘birds’ over and over again. Later a Tesco receipt for Dr. Pepper provides an impassioned ‘the poetry made me do it’ rendition.

As it happens, the faux Wildings are the perfect antidote to the gluten-free mountaintop emotional work-shopping that the poetry group has in store. They’re childish and uncomplicated, live-wire, frenetic, fast-talking dames but spend their evenings saying goodnight to their departed father, Fievel-style, staring at the stars.

An emotional entanglement quickly plays out as both sisters grow closer to the creatively blocked and stoic Richard (Tom Cullen). Richard’s sometimes girlfriend Louise, an eye roll emoji in human form, comes as close to antagonist as Black Mountain Poets has with the subsequent schoolyard back and forth comedy coming crashing through scene after scene. Bustling with verve towards a denouement that sees life on the poetic open road teach a little of something to all the story’s players, Black Mountain Poets loosely rhymes its way through a series of very funny improv scenarios, relishing in big belly laughs along the way.

A rare comedic gem resting on the Black Mountains’ broad shoulders.

Words by Cormac O’Brien