Noel Fielding among stars as film comes to Chichester

Noel and Mercedes
Noel and Mercedes

Writer/director/actor Mercedes Grower is delighted at the response she’s been getting as she takes her new film around the country.

She brings it to the Chichester Cinema at New Park on Friday, March 9 and will be offering a Q&A after the screening. Billed as a rock ‘n’ roll romantic comedy and the perfect anti-date movie, it is split into two halves, following the tumultuous stories of nine couples, plunging straight into the brutal and absurd endings of their relationships first before travelling back to the moments when the spark of love between them first emerged. Using London as their match-maker, each of their stories is unique yet familiar to us all, Mercedes promises.

The film reunites Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) alongside Paul McGann (Withnail & I), Julia Davis (Nighty Night), Kerry Fox, Steve Oram, Roland Gift, Peter Wight, Kate Hardie and Seb Cardinal.

“It’s a very, very indie film,” says Mercedes, “and it has had a very interesting, unusual way of getting out into the world. I have got an incredible cast of really elite and brilliant actors and comedians and serious actors. I have been in the industry a long time myself as an actor and a lot of the people are people I have known and worked with. But I didn’t have any money at the beginning to employ everybody in the normal way of doing a film, which is why it took so long to do.

“It is these nine couples that break up with each other around London, with London the great match-maker and the great divider. Lots of the stories were improvised. The film isn’t heavily scripted, but there were certain points that I wanted them to reach. And they were amazing performers in the way they worked. It was a very collaborative process.

“They only had to work for two days, which is why a lot of them were interested. But also going through a break-up is so universal, but always it feels such an individual thing when it is happening. I was thinking about how many ways people can break up in different ways, in different areas, in different parts of London. I wanted to explore it with the actors that were interested. They weren’t needed for long, and it was fun. They all did their break-ups, and then I called them back a year or so later to do how they got together, which is what makes it so uplifting.

“I just thought it was an interesting way to do it. We all look back on relationships, and we all remember how we started. We all go through why it didn’t work out. It was quite gruelling some of the time, but then we looked at how the relationships started and it was such a relief. Noel Fielding was saying you wouldn’t ever go through relationships again if you knew how they ended, but to go back to the start makes it all so much more positive. The second half is really magic. You get to think that there will be something else that takes its place. The whole point is that it can be continued…”

In the film, Mercedes appears in a relationship with Fielding. She was shooting the other relationships and realised she was putting off filming the one in which she would appear. Noel said he would do it with her: “It was a great gift because he is so brilliant and we have got a shorthand between us. I am the much more explosive one than the others. I couldn’t really ask the others to shout that much! There is a lot of subtlety that I wanted with everyone, but I always thought that somebody had to do the great big giant freak-out moment!” The DVD is available from Amazon.