What if God was one of us? Just a bearded Tom Hollander living in a prison like one of us? This is the intriguing and preposterous concept on which writers Mark Gill and Baldwin Li build their entertaining short film.
Based on an excerpt from the novel number9dream by David Mitchell, their script follows a psychiatrist (Martin Freeman) called in to solve ‘The Voorman Problem’. Or, in as many words: the problem of that guy who thinks he created the world nine days ago. But this is the year 2016, you reply. What about my childhood memories? They prove the world is older. Regardless, Voorman has his answers; and they’re convincing.
Tom Hollander gives a mesmerising performance, drawing on the dry wit and terrifyingly controlled vocal delivery that has made him so successful in the world of screen comedy. In the likes of In the Loop and Rev, the roles for which he’s most famous, Hollander is so put-upon he’s practically a table, creaking under the weight of everyone else’s problems. Here, like in his brief appearance in The Thick of It, he gets to let loose. There may be fewer histrionics and expletives, but the effect is just as chilling. Hollander owns every scene he’s in.
Gill also directs, creating tension in the centrepiece prison-cell scenes through intelligent shot choices and editing. He and Li edited the short as well, and their close collaboration has produced some excellent sequences, such as the moment when a barrage of extreme closeups turns a ridiculous conversation into something much scarier.
Gill and Li are a little too in love with Voorman to give much depth to any of the supporting cast, but then again, when he’s literally the centre of the universe, can you blame them?
The Voorman Problem is available to buy at https://www.wearecolony.com/the-voorman-problem/
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CAST: Tom Hollander, Martin Freeman, Simon Griffiths, Elisabeth Gray
DIRECTOR: Mark Gill
WRITERS: Mark Gill and Baldwin Li – based on an excerpt from the novel number9dream by David Mitchell
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Phil Wood
SYNOPSIS: A psychiatrist visits his latest patient – a prison inmate who is convinced he is a god.