Love in the city is hard. It’s a tricky beast, people weaving in and out of love under the London skyline. A lot of films have tried to capture this and portray it on the big screen. We end up with sickly awkward but genuinely sweet movies such as Love Actually or Man Up.
But Mercedes Gowers’ Brakes is a toe-curling and intimately emotional indie film about the pain of love. Bringing together our finest British actors, Brakes is a series of vignettes about couples breaking up before flitting forward to see how they got together.
We were lucky enough to talk to Mercedes about her new release!
How are you? How dies it feel getting a big release?
I’m quite nervous actually. Hopefully, there will be a time where I might enjoy it.
Must be quite nervous as a first feature.
It’s unusual. I’m not sure how the non-linear aspects are going to go down. I haven’t even been thinking about enjoying it. Hopefully we’ll have a celebatory weekend. Steve Oram was like “It is going to be great.”
It’s like putting your child out there.
Where did you draw inspiration from?
I’ve done comedy and dark comedy. I’ve just been thinking about people breaking up for year. It is just so personal and we all go through it. It’s so intense and weird. Warped, funny, and emotional. You are with this personal for a long time. You’re in a bubble on either side and at both ends, the break up and getting together, it’s very heightened.
I definitely wanted to do it backwards and get into the real life . You can play on it and it turns into this figure of 8. The whole thing was a jigsaw puzzle. We shot it backwards too: Filming the break-ups first. but the meet-ups worked so well as the actors new what the characters had been through. It was funny to plunge into a first meet from these intense break-ups, you can trace back exactly what went wrong.
How did you come about the stories? Were there any based in truth?
I was just thinking about making them as varied as possible and who’d work with each other. There loads of different ones like Julian (Barrett) being a stalker or Paul McGann and Kate Hardie having an affair. There’s also me and Noel (Fielding) having that innocent thing at the beginning. It’s interesting to see how dark it is going to go and making them as varied as possible.
Every break up is different. I find it funny how everyone shows so much of yourself to another person. We varied it up a bit. I loved Kerry (Fox) and Roland (Gift), to have all those pauses – it’s very deep and adult with the weight of a long time relationship. Me and Noel are more explosive, young and on the edge.
There’s a big character with London, how did this come into play?
I think any city will make you fall in love faster. Whether you are falling in love or breaking up, it becomes intense. There’s so much going on in the trees, the buildings, and the rooftops. I wanted to include some places I’ve gone too. But I think it’s intense no matter where – like the country-side would become all ‘Heathcliffe’ like . I was using what I had – the romance of London.
How did you get so many great British actors involved?
I was very lucky. The comedy bunch, I’ve known for a long time. Julian,Steve, and Noel are old friends of mine and thought it was fascinating to do a film like this. Everyone I asked seemed excited to do so, especially with the improvising. It was quite a laugh! I think Kerry Fox is incredible so I was happy when she came on board. She’s an interesting and extraordinary actress.
How did they form as couples?
It was more through timings and chemistry. I enjoyed Paul MccGann and Kate Hardie’s affair. Peter White and Julia Davies had to break up twice! Julia Davis is quite good at all that comedic darkness though.
How tricky was it filming your own scene?
I was very lucky that Noel suggested he’d do mine with me, which I had been putting off. We had quite a good shorthand together and I was glad it was him! We bounced brilliantly off one another and we had that great snow. It was brilliant to do!
Brakes is out in cinemas now!