Friday, 6 April 2018

The Plumber (1979)

Shortly after Jill Cowper's husband leaves for work for the day, she gets a knock on her apartment door.  This is Max, a plumber sent by the university (who own the building in which they live), sent to check the pipes.  Despite being nervous about letting a stranger into the flat while she is alone, Jill allows him in.

Max is affable but a little bit odd, and Jill is almost sure that he takes a shower in their bathroom while he is supposed to be working on it.  Still, when he leaves after forty minutes or so, saying he has to return the next day to replace some pipes, she acquiesces.

And so a pattern is set for the film, with Max's behaviour becoming ever more odd and disturbing, but without him ever quite doing anything to justify Jill throwing him out.  The work in the bathroom seems to endlessly expand with no end in sight, and Jill cannot get anyone - not even her husband, who is absorbed in an important work opportunity - to listen to her concerns.  Can she find a way out of the situation, or will Max's strange game escalate in some dangerous and unforeseen way?

I quite liked The Plumber, but I think a lot of people will find it frustrating (certainly my fiancee did)  It's a film that spends almost its entire run time in a state of anticipation, constantly dangling the possibility that either Jill or Max will explode, but not quite getting there.  It's going to annoy some, if not most of the audience, with how long it waits to "pull the trigger", and of course for many I think there will come a point where it seems incredible that Jill and her husband let things go as far as they do.

Only watch if you're interested in a film which is all about making you wait for the pay-off (and don't mind the risk that said pay-off might not be the one you expected or wanted).

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