Somewhere in Flutter, hidden away behind the mockney banter and “only in films” character choices there exists a darkly comedic thriller about the dangers of gambling. Somewhere. In reality what you have is a Guy Ritchie-lite melodrama that contains some good things, some bad things, but that never successfully blends any of its parts into a coherent and believable narrative.
Joe Anderson is John, a professional gambler whose speciality is dog racing. Always on the lookout for the next big tip, he falls in with bookie Stan (Anna Anissimova). Preying on his desperate search for a win, Stan leads John into a dangerous spiral of betting on ever-increasing stakes that threaten to destroy his life.
The games that Stan tempts John with range from the downright stupid to the ridiculously preposterous. From removing his own tooth to, and this may well be a spoiler, growing an ear on his stomach (yes, that’s right), the bets John make never feel in any way believable or ones that anyone with a modicum of sense would remotely entertain. The control exerted by the barking mad bookie is never at all convincing with Anissimova’s performance wavering between a camp pantomime dame and 1930s’ femme fatale, with neither demonstrating any depth or conviction, as if Anissimova herself can barely believe some of the words coming out of her mouth.
Without the frankly ridiculous Stan the film may have stood a chance. A little reality perhaps, a hint of genuine consequence to the life of a professional gambler may have grounded Flutter. It may also have provided some support to a strong central performance from Anderson, more familiar to audiences as Elijah Wood’s brother Terry in Horns or as Phineas in Hercules. You do get the sense that Anderson might actually have thought he was in a different film altogether as he delivers a convincing depiction of a man whose life is falling apart by his own hand, despite bouts of clunky dialogue. The remaining cast also chip in as best they can against a backdrop of the nonsensical, although Luke Evans is poorly underserved in his role but still fares considerably better than Ricky Tomlinson, who barely has a line to deliver - and let’s not even mention Billy Zane!
Sadly, Flutter is just too much of a mess to take seriously and will likely soon be found languishing at the bottom of your local supermarket’s bargain DVD bin. Even then, even for £1, it’s not worth a gamble.
FLUTTER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GILES BORG / SCREENPLAY: STEPHEN LESLIE / STARRING: JOE ANDERSON, LUKE EVANS, ANNA ANISSIMOVA, BILLY ZANE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW