The National Anthem (2011)

Short Television Film | Satirical Drama | UK | English | 43m | Dir: Otto Bathurst | Scr: Charlie Brooker | DP: Jake Polonsky | Prod: Barney Reisz | Mus: Martin Phipps | Ed: Chris Barwell | PD: Joel Collins | Cast: Rory Kinnear, Lindsay Duncan, Donald Sumpter, Tom Goodman-Hill, Anna Wilson-Jones, Patrick Kennedy, Alastair Mackenzie, Chetna Pandya, Alex MacQueen, Jay Simpson, Helen Fospero, Lydia Wilson
Where two years ago Brooker posited with the excellent Dead Set that the general public were far too busy watching exploitative reality TV to be aware of or even interested in world events, here, conversely, in 2011, he suggests that not only are the great unwashed masses well up on current events, but they’re actually one step ahead of the great and the powerful in both finding out about and reporting them, and – with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube – they are even actually having a major influence upon them. And so, taking a piece of public opinion-provoked PM-humiliation from the last general election as his inspiration, Brooker here explores how far politicians will go to appease the tweeting masses when things begin to go against them, which, it would seem, is as far as live televised bestiality. Unfortunately, as inspired as the basic idea is, the finished piece feels generally a little underdeveloped and rushed, with most of the characters – of which there are far too many for such a short work – feeling merely sketched. Such an idea surely merited at least twice the running time. However, the compellingly brilliant and painfully convincing central performance from Kinnear, playing a British prime minister who must have sexual intercourse with a pig live on television in order to save the life of a kidnapped Diana-like princess, just about holds the whole thing together. Vaguely – at least relatively – disappointing, though.