Review: The Uncertain Kingdom

The Uncertain Kingdom Stronger is Better

The Uncertain Kingdom Stronger is Better - Credit: Archant

Twenty well-meaning short films of life in Brexit Britain fail to see the big picture

The Uncertain Kingdom Swan

The Uncertain Kingdom Swan - Credit: Archant

The Uncertain Kingdom.

Directed by Guy Jenkins, Carol Salter, Hope Dickson Leach and many others.

Featuring Mark Addy, Hugh Dennis, Ruth Madeley, Alice Lowe, Steve Evets, Andy Hamilton, Rosalind Ayers and more. Available on demand from BFI Player in two feature length selections from June 1.

Running time: 237 mins.


This compilation of 20 short British Films For Uncertain Times is a nice, well-meaning project made by nice, well-meaning people which might drive you to furious distraction.

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It seems to work on the principle that if you are in a hole the best course of action is to keep digging until the hole realises the error of its ways.

The only thing more depressing than the global rise of big top fascism has been the way the left has cleared the path for it. After four years of exploring every available dead end and blind alley, this thoughtfully provides 20 more.

Planned as a response to Theresa May’s proposed Festival of Britain, these short films for 2020, showcasing a range of dramas, documentaries, comedies and experimental pieces, will now be available to stream in two feature length blocks of ten.

It’s all rather earnest and you yearn for a bit of humour, but the attempts at satire make things worse.

Swan has a great opening gag – Mark Addy announces that he got such a high score in the Advanced British Citizen Test that, as a reward, he is to be transformed into a swan.

The film then proceeds to kick the life out of it by visualising the way the house is being adapted until the film reveals its punchline: it’s all a Brexit allegory.

At that point, I could almost feel Nigel Farage’s smug snort of derision at the pipsqueak nature of this satirical assault, and for once I’d have to agree with the iritating provocateur.

In Strong Is Better Than Angry, we drop in on a group of women at their kickboxing class, each of them telling us about what makes them angry.

Some of them even get to vent their anger on, and draw blood from, a virtual David Cameron punchbag.

This section encapsulates the structural flaw with the whole project: that over its four hours it presents lots of small interests groups all focused on their own particular issues and lack of representation.

Everybody seems oblivious to the fact that outside of all the identity politics that has so effectively divided us, we all have a common enemy.

The Uncertain Kingdom is a very long film that doesn’t see the big picture.

Go to for a review of La Grande Bouffe, streaming on BFI Player.