In Review: Deviation

Deviation, the latest film from the mind of director J.K. Amalou, chronicles the intense encounter between deranged murderer Frank Norton (Danny Dyer) and his randomly chosen victim Amber (Anna Walton). A story told over the period of one night, Deviation offers a straightforward, raw and ultimately cathartic experience for anyone who’s a fan of modern psychological thrillers.

Simply put, the film is stripped-back. Amalou is a brave writer and an even braver director, employing one narrative strand that focuses very heavily on conversational dialogue exchanged between Dyer and Walton in the limited environment of a car. What would normally be the recipe for a flat, dull film actually brings something interesting to the table; unpredictability married with inescapable realism.[pullquote_right]Avoid making assumptions about the way that you think Dyer might play his character[/pullquote_right]

The film never deviates from its reflection of modern London and “real life” in order to indulge the more fantastical points of entertainment; its appeal lies in the everyday likeness of the story. However, this does mean that Deviation relies greatly on the steadfast quality of the scriptwriting. Some scenes feel half-baked, and some chatty exchanges are weaker than others, but on the whole, the film’s concentration on conversational interplay between just two characters achieves more than you might expect.

Danny Dyer as Frank Norton

Of course, with so much screen time dedicated to the construction of a relationship between predator lunatic Frank and the refreshingly level-headed “prey” Amber (she’s not the wailing damsel in distress you might expect, thank God), the foundations of the film lie on the close-quartered acting skills of the Dyer/Walton partnership. Avoid making assumptions about the way that you think Dyer might play his character; sure, he’s used to the role of the typical “badboy”, but madman Frankie Norton is far from your archetypal thug. He personifies the terrifying blend between brute force and dangerous, twisted mentality; he frequently veers from pitiful childishness to psychopathic insanity in a matter of seconds. These anxious bipolar moments are what keep the film driving on, with Dyer, for the most part, comfortably nailing each end of the emotional spectrum with both conviction and commitment. Without a doubt, Walton takes home the trophy for most impressive investment in character; equally as compelling as she is subtle in her acting, her performance seals tight the tense and palpable atmosphere that Deviation thrives on.

And whilst some may disagree, what we feel might have been a worthy narrative embellishment would have been a little bit of further delving into character background. Perhaps digging up some deep-set psychological reasoning for Frank’s homicidal behaviour (besides the infantile humming of ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’, which was admittedly a poignant touch) would have provided further validity and substance to the probability of the story.

Fan of your typical psychological thriller? Don’t you dare miss
Deviation. In cinemas 24th February and available on DVD on 27th February.

Stay tuned for our interview with lead man Danny Dyer himself!

Sam Hardy

Sam Hardy is a writer for KingLoaf and music journalism site AltSounds.