On Your Behalf
Our Take – Small Axe Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
On Your Behalf, by Ana Garcia Rico, is one of the less political films on our programme this year but still outlines intriguing issues of power and authority within the police system. The film is a drama that showcases a character who acts on the frustrations of their pet peeves. Some moments elicit comedy, others shock. The border often blurs between the two. In each instance we are provoked to look at the autocrat within us.
An exposed arse, standing by a pedestrian crossing without using it, a sloppy waiter. How would you react to these encounters? For most it would be frustration but for our protagonist the only option is murder. The ethic seems to take individualism to its heightened nth degree. “If anything displeases me, regardless of the way of things, I reserve the right to use force to end its outcome.” Egoistic individualism has gripped our society for too long: is this its apex manifestation yet to come?
The ugliest side to this power trip is its shared experience with the police officer, played notably by Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey). When the junior detective leaves the interrogation room, McNally leans in to our suspect and confesses his similar inclinations, if not without edging along the lines of morality, half assuring himself of his own ethical ways.
That a position of authority – one we may all know to be corrupt – harbours this decrepit manifestation may prove the levels of police brutality our current global-historical moment feels. In terms of its origin, Rico asks that we look inside our-worst-selves to see where it is born.