Nightbus (2014)

251) Night Bus (2014)

The passengers on the Night Bus have many different stories — some are lovers, some have dark secrets, some are looking for a fight, others are just trying to get through the night.

7/10 – I tried to get tickets to see this at the BFI Film Festival, but due to their repeatedly terrible website, it had sold out before I could click ‘buy’. Fortunately, due to an incredible little thing called ‘ourscreen‘ this film has been able to see a limited release. Night Bus, despite receiving good reviews was surprisingly not picked up by distributors, and a platform like ourscreen allows it to be seen by a wider audience;

ourscreen is where film fans can control their local cinema. In three easy steps (pick a film – decide where and when – share your screening), we are all able to create film screenings for our friends or anybody who wants to come. There are already over 250 films on the platform, ranging from recent hits like Under The Skin, foreign language films including Jules et Jim to classics such as Scarface. If enough people book tickets the screening happens.

The film was pitched in the ‘laughs’ section of the BFI, and I was struggling to understand how they were going to sustain laughs all the way through by simply being sat on a bus. Maybe as a short film, but after a full 80-90 minutes the premise might have become tired. As it turns out, only certain portions of the film were what you would deem as comedy and for significant periods of the film they focused on real human emotions and interactions such as depression and loneliness. It was refreshing, because what I had anticipated was a satirical view on the ‘night bus’ journey where all involved would act up beyond what would be considered real. To be presented with something where it didn’t try overly hard meant that I could buy into it, it felt real.

It was very intriguing to watch, I guess this all stems from the fact that the entire script was improvised – a point that came out of the Q&A among many, many bus related questions (I don’t think I’ve ever attended a good Q&A). That has it’s pros and cons; on the one hand it ends up being very authentic, very natural and unpredictable. On the flipside the ‘improv’ is inconsistent, and at times there appears to be a struggle of where to take the ‘story’ each character has been given, and it results in a lot of repetition.

It is a weird experience watching a film about a Night Bus, particularly because I hate buses, and as this fictional Night Bus trundled along, by the end of the film you felt like you were on it – only you couldn’t get off. At times, I got that feeling you get when you reach for your headphones to block out the absolute drivel being spouted out by idiots, but in this instance I couldn’t do that. I assume that was one of the many points it was trying to make – You were made to watch the inane shit-chat that goes on, and overall they succeeded in making a film that accurately represented the Night Bus experience while simultaneously making a unique and interesting indie film. Carried by an evolving jazz type score, and lots of individual brief stand-out performances, it is a film deserving of your time despite it’s frustrations.

The film was made on a budget of £20,000 and will not be seeing further distribution. Have a bash at finding it through ourscreen, but alternatively I recommend downloading it through Vimeo On Demand here. Another excellent platform whereby 90% of the revenues from the videos actually go back to the filmmakers. 

If you get round to watching it, let me know your thoughts.

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