Five Pillars on DVD – The DVDfever Cinema Review

Five Pillars

Five Pillars begins just as Darren (Tom Bott) has returned from Afghanistan, struggling to fit in now he’s back on Civvy Street, especially with the UK deep in recession. Even three years on from when this film was made, I’m still struggling to see the “green shoots of recovery” that some politicians claim to have glimpsed.

The title suggests a link with the Five Pillars of Islam, and religion certainly plays a part as one of Darren’s friends, Gary (Aaron Jeffcoate), has long since been laid off from his mechanic job and sees the increasing immigration being the reason for it. Gary also sees his father, Robert (George Newton), already on the scrapheap and finding life’s answers at the bottom of a bottle, and he sees himself, thirty years from now, leading to him wanting to take brutal action that’ll turn society’s clock back 50 years.

The five pillars are also the elements of life we can lose or gain as we go through it all – liberty, identity, tolerance, responsibility and class. You need to find a way forward in life, but it’s difficult when life doesn’t seem to want to know you.

This is a film packed full of strong and believable performances, amongst the strained family relationships. The gorgeous Mhairi Calvey, as distrusting benefits officer Ruth, and Rick Bithell, as her husband David, bounce off each other brilliantly, their relationship on tenterhooks after she accuses him of not doing enough to protect her when one tried to proposition her as they walked home through the park. Add in Adam Probets as another of Darren’s friends, Paul, now off to University, plus everyone else making up Darren’s life including Sophie (Rachel Lucy), his ex-girlfriend who’s growing fond of a young Pakistani lad called Yusef (Sameer Butt), causing him to equate that situation with his experience fighting the insurgents in Afghanistan; and his grandfather, Graham (Mike Kremastoules), a man whose hidden secrets won’t stay hidden for long.

And it’s also got the stunning Sarah Jane Honeywell, amongst the cast as Gary’s mum, and she should be in everything 🙂


Gary (Aaron Jeffcoate)

I have to declare an interest that I know the writer/director, Jon Rosling, and have done since we were both at Keele University in the early 90s, but as a reviewer of films I go into every single one with a clear and open mind, regardless of who made it, and I will be open to any positives and negatives within, and am mostly concerned with whether what’s onscreen provides an engaging movie experience. Also, I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s arse*, so, for example, even if I had known the late Joseph Sargent, I couldn’t have sat through his turgid and ill-advised Jaws: The Revenge and told him it was as frightening as Spielberg’s original. That said, it was frightening that it ever got green-lit as a theatrical project.

(*well, except Jennifer Aniston. I’d happily spend all day blowing anything she liked up there, but that’s probably something you didn’t need to know.)

I first saw this film a couple of years ago in the originally shot ratio of 16:9, but thought that a lot of the shots would look sharper and better-composed if they were reframed at 2.35:1. So, my claim to fame – other than being on Channel 4’s Right to Reply just before it got cancelled (not my fault) – is that those black bars are down to me.

Also, compared to the first cut I saw, this version has many scenes tightened up slightly, as well as having background sound effects and colour grading performed, so it all hangs together in an even more engaging way.

And at 86 minutes, the film tells the whole story concisely and with zero padding. Given the number of 2hr+ films I’ve sat through in the cinema where anything from 20-45 minutes could easily be chopped out, brevity is something Hollywood could learn.


Darren (Tom Bott) and Graham (Mike Kremastoules)

I saw the film as an online screener so can’t comment on the quality of a physical disc, but I have seen the DVD extras, which are as follows:

  • Reflections on Five Pillars (20:59): Looking at the making of the film, mixing clips from the film with chat from director Jon Rosling, Aaron Jeffcoate (Gary), Adam Probets (Paul), Mhairi Calvey (Ruth), talking about what the film meant to them.

  • Director interview at Keele University (11:00): Jon Rosling went back to his alma matter to show the film at Keele, in February this year, and give a talk about the production as well as plans for the future with Eye Films.

  • Behind the Scenes Photo Slide Show (2:26): Many on-set and production shots.

  • Trailers: A teaser trailer (1:40) and a regular trailer (2:20), both in 2.35:1.

  • Promo Spots Two 15-second promo trailers, suitable for showing on services such as Instagram.

Five Pillars is released tomorrow on DVD and video-on-demand and can be bought on Amazon Prime and VHX. Also check out the official Five Pillars website, and click on the poster for the full-size version.


Ruth (Mhairi Calvey) and David (Rick Bithell)

Detailed specs:

Running time: 86 minutes
Studio: Eye Films
Year: 2013
Format: 2.35:1
Released: May 23rd 2016
Rating: 10/10

Director: Jon Rosling
Producer: Rob Yeomans
Screenplay: Jon Rosling
Music: Dave S Walker
Make-up and hair design: Victoria Roberts

Darren: Tom Bott
Gary: Aaron Jeffcoate
Billy: Charlie Glossop
Paul: Adam Probets
Robert: George Newton
Sophie: Rachel Lucy
Graham: Mike Kremastoules
Ruth: Mhairi Calvey
David: Rick Bithell
Yusef: Sameer Butt
Ishmael: Amin Ali
Carla: Sarah Jane Honeywell
Mary: Jane Hayward