After their plan to steal a bulldozer is foiled, Lisa (Alice Lowe) and Claire (Dolly Wells) luck out when they find a car to steal. It is not long before they discover that the car belongs to sisters who are acclaimed poets on their way to a weekend retreat. In order to keep their cover, Lisa and Claire assume the identity of the poet sisters, and take their place at the retreat.
The title a reference to a collection of American avant-garde poets in Black Mountain College, Black Mountain Poets is a hilarious look at the lives of people believing themselves to be experimental and different, while being fairly avant-garde itself, considering it was made on a micro budget and is mostly improv based.
Daisy Lowe and Dolly Wells lead the cast here, and bring their trademark awkward, brash and hilarious humour to the screen. The dialogue is full of lines like “Why was he taking pictures? We are just two women out on their own… Trying to steal a JCB”, which Wells and Lowe deliver straight faced, making their characters’ outrage both hilarious and full of clues about the characters’ intelligence levels. The rest of the cast features Tom Cullen, Laura Patch, Ben McGregor and Rosa Robson as a particularly obnoxious jealous lover.
Jamie Adams’ story is rather simple; the women impersonate those they have stolen the car from, then fall for the same man at the retreat. The film is full of pretentious people bickering, declaring their love for one another and generally being awful to one another, but just as the film sends up the people who worship beat poets like those at Black Mountain College, it also makes the characters endearing and relatable, as they all struggle with the situations they have created for themselves.
As director, Adams allows the characters to have full reign of the film, which is both to its benefit and its detriment. On the plus side, this means that we get to know the characters and their motivations. On the down side however, it means that the film, while almost always funny and absurd, often feels like it is going nowhere. That said, Black Mountain Poets soon comes to a ridiculous, but obvious end, which is both predictable and satisfying in its comedic madness.
In all, Black Mountain Poets is a rather silly and over the top send up of pretentious and self involved people, but is still rather loving in its observations. Lowe and Wells are fantastic and carry the film ably, there are just times when the improvisational nature of the film leaves it feeling drawn out and muddled.