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Soft Top Hard Shoulder Review

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★★★★★

With a cracking Chris Rea soundtrack of the hard-boiled, road movie kind blasting over the opening credits, it is something of a surprise to find oneself at the start of this off-centre comedy back in 20s sepia-toned Glasgow, where Gavin Bellini's (Capaldi) immigrant grandfather sets up the family ice-cream empire.

Fast-forward to present-day London and book illustrator Gavin is short of work and cash when a chance meeting with an uncle alerts him to his father's 60th birthday party back in Glasgow - an event he's reluctant to attend until the lure of a scoop of the Bellini ice-cream fortune changes his mind.

Hitting the long road to Glasgow in his ancient Triumph Herald and with a deadline to meet at risk of losing his promised fortune, it's inevitable that Gavin's ride will be far from smooth and, once he picks up strangely secretive Glaswegian hitchhiker Yvonne (Collins), matters get bumpier by the moment.

Despite some priceless moments from the husband-and-wife team of Capaldi (who wrote the screenplay) and Collins, Gavin is so ghastly written that far from caring whether he collects his filthy lucre, the hope is that he meets with a fatal road accident instead.

A bold piece of filmmaking on a patently limited budget by first-time director Schwartz, the initial novelty of this particular roadshow ultimately pales, however, as endless atmospheric shots of Scottish countryside and the relentless whingeing of Peter Capaldi conspire to kill off the film's early promise and exuberance.

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