Crying With Laughter Review

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Stand-up Stephen McCole finds life spinning out of control when he falls in with a sinister ex-classmate.


With sharp cinematography compellingly capturing Edinburgh’s seedier side, this snarling slice of underdog life works well when focusing on aspiring stand-up Stephen McCole delivering his sardonic routines or seething at his ex-wife Jo Hartley’s treachery. However, it threatens to derail after loner Malcolm Shields kidnaps McCole’s young daughter to coerce him into exacting revenge on the now-senile reformatory principal who had abused them as boys.

Relishing the erudite screenplay, McCole impresses whether wallowing in self-pity, spitting comic bile or facing up to the shame and rage he thought he’d long conquered. But debuting director Justin Molotnikov dissipates any tension during the increasingly implausible denouement.

Visceral camerawork captures the dark side of Edinburgh's cobbled streets expertly, but it's let down by its improbable climax.