The Big Hit

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

I think it is fair to say that our showing of 'The Big Hit' was, well, a big hit – the audience even sitting through the titles at the end. A film about an actor persuading a group of prison inmates to attempt to act 'Waiting for Godot', does not sound enticing especially if you, like me, have ever seen that play and not understood a word of it! But it worked amazingly well.

Concentrating on the prisoners' attitudes – embarrassed at the words, laughing and joking with each other, but gradually beginning to enjoy it – the film was, at heart, a comedy. These prisoners were hardened criminals (it was based on a real event), coming towards the end of long sentences, who started out on the acting as just something to do. The director, Etienne, was a failed actor who took the job at the prison just to feed himself. By the end, the team they became had not only succeeded in putting the play on but doing it so successfully they ended up touring it to several theatres.

As a film it was almost a thriller, certainly gripping; Would Etienne be given enough support by the authorities to get as far as the final production? Would the actors succeed? Once on the road, you were carried along by their success, so their final show was a bit of a shock; all of them decided to run away and leave Etienne to explain to the audience.

A great evening all round.