A sad sack named Paul is working as an operator on a London commuter
train while he tries to write a novel. Within a three-week period he runs
over two human beings in unavoidable accidents. He's understandably
traumatized and depressed about the recent events until two of his
colleagues tell him about a rarely invoked rule, "three and out," which
means that any London Underground driver who runs over three people in one
month is laid off permanently as unfit, but with ten years' salary in
his pocket to compensate for lost wages and mental anguish.
Since he's down on his financial luck, Paul dreams of a third victim, but
it's Friday and he has only a weekend and Monday left on the clock. Since
no routes scheduled over the weekend, his Monday run will be his one
and only chance at the morbid jackpot. He knows full well that the odds are infinitely high against anyone falling under his
train on a single run, so there's only one way he can collect the bounty: he needs
to find a volunteer to jump in front of his train. After failing miserably in
his attempt to seduce homeless and elderly people into his plot, he lucks
upon a man trying to jump from a bridge, saves him, and persuades him to
postpone his suicide until Monday. The suicidal Irishman is reluctant to
accept the deal at
first, but is finally convinced by Paul's offer of 1500 quid in cash for a
final weekend of indulgence, score-settling, and fence-mending.
Paul insists on going along on the Irishman's final weekend, and the
two men bond through a series of adventures. The Irishman tries to find a
way to deal with death, and the driver finds a way to deal with life. Both
of them find things that had been missing from their lives, including
friendship with one another.
But Monday must arrive and "a deal's a deal."
Will the new friends be able to go through with their plan?
The BBC rated it 2/5, and The
Guardian took the under, with a minimum 1/5. While the Brit-Crits were
savaging Three and Out, the London Underground operators were picketing it because
they found its ideas offensive to them as well as to the families of those
apparently numerous victims who actually do perish beneath the wheels of
their trains. If you study the IMDb info on this film, you'll conclude
that it is a poor film, but a very controversial one. Those conclusions
would both be wrong.
There is very little controversial about it. It has a dark premise
(there's even some cannibalism!), but
no darker than any other black comedy like Dr. Strangelove or The
Producers. Moreover, the premise is the only element of black comedy in
the film. The story actually plays out as a sentimental, heartfelt dramedy
about quirky people finding redemption when things seem bleakest. The film
does have some other dark elements, but they are not at all comic. The
final act of the film raises a lot of serious questions about euthanasia
and death with dignity.
Not exactly your wacky Dane Cook comedy.
It's actually quite a good little film which is very much within the
tradition of off-kilter
British comedy. The performances are quite moving, especially from Colm
Meany as the Irishman and Imelda Staunton as his long-suffering wife. The
only place the film really fails is that it completely abandons all humor
in the final half hour, and the absolute nature of that tone shift really violates its covenant with the
viewer. The end of the film is deeply emotional, utterly melodramatic and
more than a bit maudlin.
But I still found it worthwhile.