The fun loving criminals of DOOMSDAYS

Rating: ★★★

They’re a pair of hobo burglars, robbing from the rich and squatting in their homes. Bruho’s a petulant packhorse prone to auto wrecking in every driveway. Dirty Fred is the scotch-drinking pseudo sophisticate, who begins every break-in with a visit to the liquor cabinet. Dressed like a supply teacher from Hogwarts he works three-dollar words into pick-up lines with ribald confidence but isn’t above knocking one out to the moans and groans coming from a nearby camper van when he can’t get any.

Seasoned pros at weighing up the prospects of a property, Bruho and Fred prey upon residences located the furthest possible distance from police stations with terrible response times. Their number one rule is ‘don’t get caught’ but, in such an event, a gentleman can get away with anything so long as he does it with style. One of the joys of Justin Rice’s rib-tickling performance is watching Dirty Fred improvising semi-credible bullshit on-the-spot that plays on the homeowners’ overwhelming denial that they’re dealing with dangerous crooks who’ve violated their homes. It works almost every time.

Neither of them have any guilt over what they do, in part due to Bruho’s apocalyptic outlook that sooner or later we’ll all be living like this. As oil prices unaffordably rise, all the products made with it will stop being produced, and billions will die or adapt. At the very least, it’s a good excuse for destroying every parked car in sight.

Two months of living a lawless life of luxury is broken up by day-and-date intertitles and by the end of this spry, but fully satisfying ninety minute feature, you’ll come away feeling like you’ve been out on the road with Bruho and Fred for quite some time. Part of the appeal of these chalk and cheese characters is watching the actors playing them in polar opposition to the roles they’re best remembered for. In the years since his indelible turn in Larry Clark’s Kids, Leo Fitzpatrick has finally grown out of perpetual adolescence. Still young-looking, he’s now burly and beefed up, with close-cropped hair already greying. Where previously Fitzpatrick has been called upon to play explosive loudmouths lacking guile, Bruho is a deeply centred introvert whose complex rage consciously hides secrets. Justin Rice, so memorable as a foot-in-mouth dateless dork in Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation, is never at a loss for words as a good-time Charlie whose contagious personality takes over when he’s charging glasses.

Along the way they pick up two strays who join their criminal cause; a picked on, overweight college kid (Brian Charles Johnson) and a girl who can hang with the guys (Olivia Wilde lookalike Laura Campbell). Bruho is immediately suspicious of their addition, which for a moment, seems like it might blunt the Withnail and I type banter between the ironclad Type A personality and the blotto erudite putting on aristocratic airs. Pleasingly, Johnson and Campbell give performances of such unassuming warmth that we come to care about them deeply, their interactions revealing deeper shades of the friendship between Bruho and Fred. Like the film itself, the unexpected connection that develops between this band of misfits is as charmingly quaint as it is quirky.

First published by Vérité Film Magazine on September 28, 2013

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