Down and Outs rehabilitating themselves by living off the land paints an incongruous picture of back to basics self help but in these bucolic surroundings we see the Good Life descending into a testosterone fuelled version of Lord of the Flies.
Don’t be fooled by this seemingly green oasis in an urban sea of grey as this is not the Priory under canvass rather a “pop up” bootcamp for the marginalised and for Adam, the archetypal materialist fallen on hard times, this is an unlikely chance of redemption.
In a previous life his approach to work was cut throat and career minded yet in his private life he was debauched and irresponsible – a gambler, a philanderer and a man whose luck finally ran out. Leaving a wife and two children, and at his lowest ebb, he stumbles upon Rusty, an apparently bearded symbol of hope among the detritus of street life.
His saviour introduces him to a world of dappled light and long shadows where life is one of routine and monk like abstinence under the all seeing eye of Marshall, a Svengali like figure who holds an almost hypnotic sway over his rag tag army of followers.
Liam Smith’s portrayal of a paradoxical world where an underclass can effectively live by their own rules untouched by the laws and social norms of contemporary society is not a new idea but the characters and context provide a striking contrast to the benefits society so disparagingly portrayed in the modern day media.
Gradually the self sufficiency utopia becomes a living hell as the liberating but ultimately toxic combination of fresh air, freedom and control turn the initially close knit group of inherently unstable males into an anarchic time bomb.
A variation on a well established theme this may but by telling the story through the eyes of an outsider in a dysfunctional society we are also forced to question our own morality or one day face prospect of turning as wild as our surroundings.