The Toll review – toll booth man with no name fights back in jokey Welsh western

Father Ted meets the old west in this entertaining black comedy set in rural Pembrokeshire – “where English people come to die”, according to graffiti on a road sign into the county. It features a couple of familiar faces from Ben Wheatley’s films and goes for that same streak of weirdy wrongness, though without perhaps without such deliciously deadpan darkness.

The star is Michael Smiley (from Wheatley’s Kill List and A Field in England); he has the perpetual hangdog expression of a man of many sorrows. Here he’s known only as Toll Booth on account of his job behind the till of the quietest toll booth in Wales: it’s 40p to cross. A solitary, western-style hero of few words, he speaks more in hard stares and frowns.

His problems begin when the toll is robbed by a trio of women dressed in balaclavas; they make off with £1.20 and a ham sandwich. Next, a flashy London gangster (Gary Beadle) drives through and recognises him. It turns out that nondescript Toll Booth has a past. “I did something terrible and someone’s going to have to pay for it,” he broods. What also becomes evident is that he has built up a criminal empire out of his Portakabin.

Director Ryan Andrew Hooper gives us a funny tour of the village where everyone is comedy-sketch character. Steve Oram plays a narrow-minded English petrol station owner who’s moved to Wales to get away from the bloody foreigners: “Wales is the only place that the English have left.” Half the village seem to be involved in Toll’s Booth’s racket. His two sidekicks are bad boy Dom (Iwan Rheon, sadistic Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones) and Paul Kaye as a crusty ambulance driver. It all goes a bit Fargo with the presence of local cop Catrin (Annes Elwy) but the climactic western gunfight – played for laughs – didn’t quite work for me.

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