GAMEFACE REVIEW – And Our Top 10 Damien Molony Moments!
GameFace has just finished airing on E4, and might just be the best thing of 2017.
Starring our favourite actor alongside creator Roisin Conaty and an incredible cast, the series is a fresh, current, moreish new comedy, that is not just outrageously funny, raucously laugh out loud and full of hilarious one liners, but also a warm, full of heart, emotionally engaging, quality drama.
Billed as a sitcom, GameFace is so much more – a naturalistic comedy, cleverly written, with a richly satisfying story arch, despite the whole series being crammed into just six 25 minute episodes. It’s a textured, quirky and unique creation, tonal, layered, with a lead character it’s impossible not to invest in.
That’s Marcella of course, the beautiful red-wine-lipped, fairy-costume-wearing, semi -mess of a real woman brought to life by the sparkling Roisin Conaty. Throughout the series we follow her life trials as a wannabe actress trying to keep life together a year on after the break up of her long-term relationship with Simon (Dustin Demri-Burns), the ex who married another woman after knowing her for only six days. We meet her flatmates and family, but most importantly of course, her driving instructor Jon (Damien. More on that soon.)
Marcella’s story is told with the help of her Groupon funded sessions with ‘dubious’ ‘life coach’ Graham (Karl Theobold). Peppered with bite size flashbacks and ‘flash forwards’ – a clever plot tool for filling in the gaps in Marcella’s life and revealing her inner hopes and fears – these set the tragi-comic tone of the whole series.
And there are plenty of tragic themes in Marcella’s life, the return of her now married ex, massive debt and a struggling career, her bother Billy’s drug addiction and her self-destructive “carbs, fags and wine” coping mechanisms. All are explored with both bright humour and tenderness – which means you never feel tricked or guilty for dissolving into side-splitting laughter at anyone’s expense, and never feel confused by being moved to tears simultaneously.
Writer-creator Roisin Conaty even manages to balance death and self-deprecation with humour, when Marcella dissuades a potential rooftop suicide victim from jumping by describing her own troubles: “I’m an actor who hasn’t acted in anything for four years, I’m £28k in debt, my boyfriend of 12 years married a girl he’d known for six days in Vegas… I’ve got fat hands now, I don’t know when they suddenly got fat.”
But GameFace is more ‘comedy drama’ than ‘dramedy’ and there is not a second of wasted potential in this cool, contemporary comedy. The laughs just don’t stop coming, it’s so easy to watch, entertainingly accessible and you can’t help but respond to the honesty of Roisin Conaty’s Marcella, who has some definite stand out moments in the series. Favourites include:
When Marcella, inspired by the book ‘Wild’, decides to take a trip of self discovery, and gets lost in the woods.
When Marcella lands an acting job and her improvised hiccup cure ends up in chaos.
When your fear of spiders is on a totally different level. #GameFace <a href=”https://t.co/</adXKkIBAjhN”>pic.twitter.com/dXKkIBAjhN
— E4 (@E4Tweets) October 26, 2017
When Graham the life coach asks Marcella, “When was the last time you persevered, I mean really persevered.. held on to something you really wanted”…
— E4 (@E4Tweets) October 28, 2017
The quality comedy is enhanced with gorgeous visual style, in all areas – costumes (Marcella’s particularly) sets, soundtracks, photography. The onscreen GameFace titles appearing in the intros and outros are a wonderful artistic touch too.
The best thing about GameFace though is the relationship between Marcella and her ‘ever-patient’ driving instructor Jon, their romantic thread weaving its way through the mayhem in Marcella’s life.
Initially played out during Marcella’s driving lessons, it’s no straightforward, obvious romance. Jon is only on the fringes of her life in the beginning, often left waiting for an often late Marcella, but also bearing witness to her more real and less superficial moments. Their time together becomes more twisty-turny when Simon makes contact with Marcella again, and Jon dates someone else, testing Marcella’s true feelings and Jon’s constancy. The plot undulates with the will-they-won’t-they tension of their growing attraction – sweetly, awkwardly, with unspoken misunderstandings and insecurities on each side – providing nuggets of comedy gold.
Damien and Roisin have incredible and natural on screen chemistry, both actors give nuanced performances from the hilarious to the heartbreaking. Every interaction between their characters, layered from the superficial to the deeper meaning, oozes with magnetism and their scenes together are some of the funniest of the series.
In Jon, Damien brings a multi-faceted character, who at first appears to be the reliable, steady, rational, calming opposite to Marcella. But he becomes more intriguing across the series and later surprises with a less serious side, revealing a spontaneous streak, with plenty of unexpected humour and disarming charm and wit.
Here are our Top Ten Damien moments from GameFace, one of our fave projects from our fave actor to date.
1. Spanx (episode 2)
Marcella arrives at her driving lesson in a green fairy costume. Jon’s barely contained jealousy and frustration and his awkwardness with Marcella’s “inane flirting” is hilariously adorkable.
Marcella: These spanx are so tight
Jon: They have to come off
Jon: Shoes, Marcella, I’m sorry shoes have to come off.. spanx are fine
Marcella: It’s fine Jon, your car, your rules. I’m going to keep my knickers on for a bit, if that’s ok with you.
Jon: Start the car Marcella
2. Why not? (episode 2)
Jon has rescued Marcella from her ‘Wild’ camping experience and surprises her (and us) by not reacting in the expected way in conversation. It’s just a little moment, but a thrilling dynamic shift when he turns the tables on Marcella, who has had the upper hand when it comes to flirting up until this point. Plus, that smile.
Marcella: I’m very aware I may stink
Jon: Yeah, you stink alright
Marcella: I don’t.. really stink
Jon: No way ’round it, you stink
Marcella: Right, well, I won’t be inviting you inside then
Jon: Why not?
3. The King Of Tinder (episode 3)
Where even to begin with the epicness of this scene. ‘Tinder King’, the suit, the date, the gratitude journal. The undercurrents. It speaks for itself. Watch below.
— E4 (@E4Tweets) October 19, 2017
4. Will they? Won’t they? (episode 3)
This is the moment when Jon moves away from the car and closer to Marcella’s life physically and metaphorically. There’s a spontaneous hug, kiss, long lingering stares and oodles of ‘will-they-wont they’ tension.
5. Broken eggs (episode 4)
Jon bumps into Marcella at the supermarket and cannot ‘bear’ how she carries (and drops) a carton of eggs. The whole thing is a perfect example of the two being opposites of each other, and Damien’s brilliant portrayal of an uptight Jon gives us impossible to resist Hal / Being Human flashbacks. We all know how Hal feels about eggs.
“Well those eggs are broken.”
6. Tromboner (episode 4)
The next two top moments are from the same scene and frankly the whole of it is brimming with brilliance. Damien and Roisin’s performances are so organic, the lines so instinctive, they could almost have been improvised. When Jon and Marcella return to her flat after a boozy night, Jon delivers this one liner when Marcella asks him to play the trombone, and it is comedy gold. (Click below).
7. “Waanted” (episode 4)
We’re no strangers to Damien’s falsetto (Hal’s ‘Reach Out’ in Being Human anyone?) but this spontaneous singing moment from the same scene is an utterly delightful surprise. (Click below).
8. “I like you” (episode 5)
An event that didn’t actually happen, this one is another of Marcella’s inner fears in ‘flash forward’ form. It’s the funniest moment of the episode with great stunt work from Damien.
9. Operatic interlude (episode 6)
Episode 6 treated us to more singing, when Jon tried his best to impress with the perfect daytime date at his bowling alley (not to mention the Alpaca Farm!). He finally managed to get the full attention of a distracted Marcella (who had slept with her ex the night before) by belting out a bit of Puccini’s Nessan Dorma.
10. Package (episode 6, series finale)
The worry going into the series finale was how things were going to end for Marcella and Jon. Would their story threads be left dangling? Would their now apparent feelings for each other finally be requited? We found ourselves rooting for whatever meant more of the same for them in series 2 (This. Must. Happen.) Those very important questions were not answered until the very final scene. The double meaning to the last exchange between Marcella and Jon was the perfect ending for a perfect series, and the perfect set up for more of what we loved about it. And Damien literally has the last word of the series.
Marcella: Maybe I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was..
Jon: Maybe I rushed you
Marcella: ..probably gonna need more lessons
Jon: Loads, you’ll need loads, like certainly more than five, hopefully less than ten
Marcella: I’d say ten
Jon: I could do ten..
Marcella: Ten seems..
Jon: I do a package
Thank you Roisin Conaty, for the addictively binge-worthy gem that is GameFace, you made our year. We’re probably going to need more episodes, if you felt like ‘doing a package’.