Made on the sort of budget commonly referred to as "shoestring", and providing a great showcase for a bunch of unknowns, Simon Rumley's debut feature finally nabs itself some cinema space nearly four years after it was made. And while it suffers somewhat from the obvious cost constraints, its still curious to consider that this spirited, clever little picture has been on the shelf for so long.
Taking on a documentary style that, like The Blair Witch Project, mixes film stocks with black-and-white footage, the 16 characters - ranging from the colourful and eccentric (a fetish model, a hippie tarot expert), to the vaguely annoying (a bike fanatic, an upper-crust It girl), basically spend the film airing their views on everything from sex and politics to clubbing, restaurants and beer. While each piece of footage initially appears unrelated to the next, a 17th character - a narrator whose face is only gradually revealed as the action progresses, fills in some of the gaps, telling a disturbing story which ultimately provides some surprising and deceptive plot structure.
Strong Language suffers slightly in its abundance of characters - not all of them are completely convincing, and it takes some serious concentration to keep up with 17 people over such a slender running time. But the script is observant and witty, despite the fact that some of the material has unfortuately dated (in particular a protracted sequence discussing the merits of Blur's then-topical Parklife), the cast engaging and enthusiastic, and the direction highly promising, with Rumley avoiding any self-consciously hip tricks and focusing instead on his characters and retaining audience intrigue. Its unlikely to be seen by many people, but it's a first feature that's certainly worth checking out if the opportunity presents itself.