I currently have an old friend visiting me from England, and during this first week of his trip, we have managed to sample the wares at more hostelries than I care to mention. We also managed to fit a few games of darts in our travels!
Last night, though, we decided to stay in, have a couple of drinks, and watch a movie he brought over for me. The movie in question is called Good Arrows and, as you might imagine, it’s about darts.
I’m a big fan of Irvine Welsh, the author of the mighty Trainspotting, and I’d been looking forward to seeing this one-off made-for-TV comedy drama he co-wrote with his frequent partner in crime, Dean Cavanagh.
Taking South Wales as its backdrop, Good Arrows is a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary that follows ex-darting sensation, Andy “The Arrows” Samson (Jonathan Owen), who is trying to recapture his former glory as a darting ace. Andy is being filmed by indy documentary filmmaker, Sebastian (Joe McKinney) who, throughout the film, unravels the cause of the rift between Andy’s old friend/guru/manager Alwyn (Brian Hibbard), and his new wife/manager Big Shelia (Katy Brand).
Like most mockumentaries, Good Arrows plays out similarly to the classic This Is Spinal Tap, and does it well. Welsh and Cavanagh perfectly satirize the unglamorous world of darts and local celebrity, and the laughs come fairly thick and fast. Like most of Welsh’s novels, it also paints a realistically grim portrait of working class life in Britain, along with the absurdities of modern life. If you don’t know much about Wales, you’ll learn a lot about life in that country, but probably nothing the Welsh Tourist Board would approve of.
A big part of the realism in the film comes from the actors themselves, who all play their parts brilliantly. Of particular note are Katy Brand, who plays the conniving, moneygrubbing wife, Big Shelia, and Brian Hibbard, who plays the frankly disgusting Alwyn, who is involved in the particularly nasty production of a new street drug (you really need a strong stomach for that scene).
This is definitely not a film for the family! If you know anything about Irvine Welsh, you will expect his characters to be vulgar and brash, and they do not disappoint in that department. Be warned, the language and the situations are a little raw if you are of a sensitive disposition, and common to Welsh’s work, many of the characters partake in recreational drug use.
OH! What about the darts? Well, we get to see both Andy and Alwyn discuss the Zen like nature of the game. You get a brilliant insight into what it’s like to be a local darts hero as Andy travels the pub circuit and meets his fans. Also, there’s a brief clip of the cult British darts-based quiz show, Bullseye.
Good Arrows is a fun look into the seedy part of the darting world, and is very well written and performed. There are not many films out there about darts, so this is well worth a look if you can hunt down a copy. It’s double-top of a film.