The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
You probably went through a time in your life like the one Frank is going through in "The Low Down." I know I did. You may be going through it now. It passes. At the time, you hardly notice it. Later you look back and wonder how you could have been so clueless. Frank is stuck. He should have quit his job, changed his apartment and found a steady girl a long time ago, but he drifts in vagueness, unable to act. There are times when he may be terrified in social situations, but we can't be sure--and maybe he can't, either.
Frank (Aidan Gillen) works with Mike (Dean Lennox Kelly) and John (Tobias Menzies) in a London shop where they manufacture jokey props for TV shows and magic acts. He lives in a grotty walk-up above a hairdresser's and next door to a crack house. All night long junkies stand on the sidewalk beneath his window, shouting "Paul! Paul!" to their dealer. Frank knows he should move, but jokes about buying Paul a doorbell.
Thinking it is time to buy his own flat, Frank goes to a real estate office and meets Ruby (Kate Ashfield). As they look at apartments together, they begin to like each other. The writer-director, Jamie Thraves, uses freeze-frames to show how they're struck with each other. A stylistic device like that leaps out because the movie is so low-key. It has no plot, no objective, no purpose other than to show a few days in the lives of a group of friends. They work, they gossip, they hang out, they go to parties, they sit on each other's beds and talk, and Frank and Ruby draw as close to each other as Frank can stand before he has to retreat. There is a subtle subplot about how he has stopped drinking, and starts again.
The British critics said the movie was about nothing. Depends on how you see it. I think it's about Frank's paralyzing inability to move, socially or any other way. The more you look at this guy, the more you realize he's trembling inside. Aidan Gillen is handsome in a Richard Gere-Timothy Hutton sort of way, and can be charming at first, but soon Ruby is looking at him strangely because he seems distant and tentative. He has a way of breaking dates, or turning up late; once he hides and watches her waiting for him.