Finn (Andrew Mullan) meets Lily (Phoebe Naughton) during a heat wave dominated summer in Brighton. The two continue to see one another after hooking up in a nightclub and Lily invites Finn to spend time with her at her parent’s house while they are out of town. The arrival of Lily’s brother Jamie (George Stocks) creates tension between the couple and when Jamie stumbles upon a secret about Finn, he decides to use it to his advantage rather than revealing all to his sister.
Palace of Fun is a family affair of a movie. Written by brothers Eadward Stocks and George Stocks, the latter starring as Jamie, and produced with their brother David, the film pays homage to classic cinema, most notably taking plenty of inspiration from The Talented Mr. Ripley. The film is a slow burn of a movie as Jamie takes his time deciding what to do with the information he finds out about his sister’s new boyfriend.
Despite a strong start, Palace of Fun stars to fall apart slightly during its second half. The big secret that Jamie discovers lands a bit flat when Lily eventually, and predictably finds out, making the premise of the film feel a bit under-developed. This secret is seemingly big enough for Finn to basically agree to do sexual favours for Jamie in exchange for his silence but in the eyes of Lily not that big a deal. It’s also swiftly forgotten as the movie progresses and heads into a very messy, and not wholly believable third act.
There’s pretty much zero chemistry between Mullan’s Finn and Naughton’s Lily so it’s hard to invest in their relationship at all. There’s more chemistry between Finn and Stocks’ Jamie, but that isn’t explored in any way other than the suggestion that Jamie is sexually assaulting his sister’s boyfriend. There needed to be more of an exploration for those characters to make the events that transpire believable.
Mullan is the strongest of the three main cast members by a long shot. He looks a little like Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley and brings the same kind of brooding naivety to his role that is Badgley’s trademark. Stocks is at times over the top as Jamie and it feels like he’s beating you over the head to prove he’s menacing when actually subtlety would have worked better. Naughton is given the least to do of the three characters and I didn’t particularly find her performance that memorable.
Palace of Fun seems to be an attempt to reinterpret The Talented Mr. Ripley but it never reaches the highs of that movie. The film chugs along hitting predictable marks but never really spending the time to make the relationship between the central trio believable. The poor ending further hampers the movie and you can’t help but feel that the whole thing is a missed opportunity.
Cast: George Stocks, Andrew Mullan, Phoebe Naughton Director: Eadward Stocks Writer: Eadward Stocks & George Stocks Certificate: 18 Duration: 80 mins Released by: TLA Releasing Release date: 23rd October 2017