Dates is a series of films Channel 4 is running over its ‘Mating Season.’ This first one is a short, sort of interesting drama. There’s not really much to it, but I found it holding my attention. The acting was its strong point, along with a quiet and understated tone.
Will Mellor played David, a lorry driver at a restaurant waiting on his dating website appointed partner. Sitting at the bar was Oona Chaplin’s Mia, his arrogant, rude date who decided to bail on him. She came back though, and a tense and teasing dinner took place, before Mia bailed again, the two met up, fought and left in a taxi together.
Mellor was good as a straightforward and likable guy and Chaplin was outstanding as his conceited, attractive, shoulder-shrugging date. She really managed to make a horrible and annoying character enjoyable to watch.
I did have a problem with her character though. First of all, she was really annoying, and characters that are deliberately created to be annoying are still annoying. No one wants to watch that, especially in a two character film. The show was really fortunate to have Chapman because a lesser actress would have most people turning off the TV.
Mia was also unrealistic. She’s a vain and incredibly inconsiderate socialite who sleeps with lots of footballers but she’s also apparently really smart and, deep down, sensitive. It rings untrue and she seemed like an artificial creation. Mellor’s David was much better. As with Chapman though, the actor was more responsible for the character’s likeability than the writing.
The tone of the film was nice and minimalist and I liked the directing. There was one shot of David filmed from outside the restaurant which showed his waitress hesitate and then return to the table to inform David that Mia has left. The camera cut back inside mid-conversation, with the audience already aware from the context what was happening. It’s not a major thing but it’s nice to see little bits like that; a short film series like this gives writers, directors and actors more scope for experimenting.
That is probably the worth in this series; the opportunity to see different creative people collaborate on short films with a common theme. Episodes will probably be hit and miss though.
- There are nine episodes according to the Radio Times, the first five airing Mon-Wed this week and Tue-Wed next. I think – judging from this press release – that we might be seeing David and Mia again in another episode.
- It wasn’t very funny for a drama billed as ‘witty.’ Hopefully future episode will be funnier.