- 1 hr 41 min
"Shadey" is a dark comedy thriller from 1985, directed by Philip Saville and based on a novel by Howard Jacobson. It tells the story of Shadey (Antony Sher), a strange and enigmatic man who arrives in a small English town and quickly becomes embroiled in a web of deceit and revenge. The film opens with Shadey being released from a mental institution, where he has spent the last few years following a nervous breakdown. He is taken in by a kindly but eccentric widow called Clara (Billie Whitelaw), who gives him a room in her large, dilapidated house. Clara is a former music hall performer who still yearns for the limelight, and she sees in Shadey the potential to help her achieve her dreams. Shadey is a highly intelligent and manipulative man, with a gift for mimicry and an ability to charm those around him. He soon begins to insinuate himself into the lives of the other inhabitants of the town, including the local doctor (Patrick Macnee) and a wealthy businessman called Mr. Rossiter (Bernard Hepton). It becomes clear that Shadey has an ulterior motive for his presence in the town, and that he is not to be trusted. As the plot unfolds, we are taken on a twisted journey through the various schemes and intrigues that Shadey gets involved in. There are moments of black comedy, as well as more unsettling scenes that hint at the horror and violence bubbling beneath the surface. Throughout it all, Antony Sher gives a mesmerizing performance as Shadey, a man who seems to be both deeply damaged and incredibly dangerous. "Shadey" is a film that defies easy categorization. Part thriller, part comedy, part social satire, it is a unique and often unsettling experience. Philip Saville directs with a keen eye for detail, creating a world that is both strange and familiar. The screenplay by Howard Jacobson is witty and insightful, poking fun at the absurdities of English middle-class life while also exploring darker themes of manipulation and revenge. The supporting cast is excellent, with Billie Whitelaw bringing a delightful quirkiness to her role as Clara, and Patrick Macnee providing a touch of old-school charm as the doctor. The film also features memorable cameos from a range of British character actors, including John Shrapnel, Stratford Johns, and Fulton Mackay. One of the film's strengths is its use of setting. The town in which the story takes place is presented as a kind of microcosm of English society, with its petty rivalries and class divisions. The crumbling, decaying architecture of the town reinforces the sense of decay and corruption that permeates the story. There are hints of Gothic horror in the film's visuals, with dark shadows and twisted staircases adding to the sense of unease. Overall, "Shadey" is a film that deserves to be better known. It is a darkly entertaining thriller that defies easy categorization, blending elements of comedy, drama, and horror into a unique and unsettling whole. With its strong cast and sharp writing, it is a film that lingers in the memory long after the credits have rolled.