The Cost of Love (cert. 18) is a new feature film that was filmed almost exclusively in Greenwich and features a very local cast and crew. I joined much of that cast and crew last week for a special screening before its premier next Monday at the Greenwich Picture House.
Greenwich based male prostitute Dale (Christopher Kelham) has all sorts of clients. Dale sees them all, from voyeuristic guys into school uniforms, to an older gentleman into scrubbing the bathroom floor for ‘Sir’ (stylish Greenwich guesthouse owner Robert Gray of ‘The Hotel Inspector’ fame).
Dale loves his job, proclaiming: “I like sex, and lots of it”, however you question this as sometimes he delves deep into his imagination, suggesting that he might not love his job so much after all. Aside from this he also has a normal life as best friend and confidante to Raj (Valmike Rampersad). Raj is confused about his up and coming marriage to ‘boring’ Veena (Mandeesh Gill), shown in some beautiful sun-drenched riverside scenes.
It is quite clear that perfectionist cinematographer Amarjeet Singh has spent hours working on this fine film to make it look the way it does.
The costume and makeup department must also be mentioned, as Michael Joyce a.k.a Estée Applauder as ‘Sean’ looks absolutely fabulous. Michael regularly appeared in drag at local pubs but was tragically killed in November 2009, which is possibly the most moving aspect of the film, since his performance is hilarious. Sean’s best scene is sat at dinner with Dale, Raj and Veena, where he has gone all Indian in his dress and comes out with some of the best quips in the film.
The theme of this film has been portrayed in a fantastically funny way encompassing a multitude of fantasies that most of us never admit we have. Aside from the humour, there is a serious theme which upholds the film, ‘the cost of love’. It cuts across each of the characters’ stories, making the viewer think about fate and sacrifices that we all make in order to be true to ourselves.
Shot on location in Greenwich, director Carl Medland shows life in this part of South East London extremely well, with glimpses of Creek Road and pubs The George and Dragon and The Rose and Crown. In Sean’s drag act he mentions the “177 bus from Peckham to Thamesmead” which only a South East Londoner would have a chuckle at. The Greenwich Drag Race is also shown; as Sean shows his latest flamboyant outfit off to the crowds whilst Dale films on a handheld camera.
This film’s trailer does not do the film justice. When I watched it, I thought it was going to be a cheesy, wall-to-wall sex, ‘gay’ film. There is a fair amount of sex in it, which I think would be missed if it weren’t there, but there is more depth to the film than that. It shows some of life’s problems, whether it’s that dreaded trip to the sexual health clinic, or the memory of an abusive family member, there’s something that most can relate to. I felt that, occasionally, some of the characters’ problems were sprung upon the viewer without sufficient development, but aside from that, they were excellently acted out.
In his first full length movie, Carl Medland has skillfully created a film which successfully speaks to a gay or straight audience, and leaves the viewer feeling both emotional and upbeat by the end of it.
The Cost of Love (cert. 18) will have screenings at The East London Film Festival; Greenwich Picturehouse; and The End of the Pier International Film Festival. More details can be found at www.thecostoflove.com.