Director: Ryan Andrew Hooper
Writer: Matt Redd (Screenplay)
Starring: Michael Smiley, Annes Elwy, Iwan Rheon, Paul Kaye, Gary Beadle, Steve Oram
Plot: A darkly-comic thriller about a lone toll-booth operator with a past that is fast catching up with him.
Tagline – Everybody pays.
Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: The Toll starts as we head to a small Welsh village where a toll booth operator Toll (Smiley) finds the day filled with action, as he recounts the events of the day to the local friendly police officer Catrin (Elwy). Toll’s does secretly have an illegal operation going on with many of the locals including Dom (Rheon) and paramedic Cliff (Kaye) working for him.
Toll gets a chance meeting which will put his whole operation in trouble, when his former boss has finally located him after nearly 30-years looks to come and settle the score.
Thoughts on The Toll
Characters & Performances – Toll Booth is known by the locals as a quiet man, operating the quietest toll booth in Wales, secretly he has his own criminal operation going on, one which is going to start to catch up with him, leaving him needing to pull together all his connection to get out of the situation in the cleanest possible way, to return to his quiet life. Michael Smiley is the star of this film with his calm delivery to everything that is happening, never looking fazed by the events of the film like his character needs to be. Catrin is the local police captain that believes she knows everything that is happening in her small village, knows everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, just looking to keep everyone safe. Annes Elwy brings us the grounded good figure to the world that is filled with criminals. The supporting cast of Iwan Rheon, Paul Kaye and Gary Beadle are all great getting their moments to shine in their characters own way.
Story – The story here follows a man telling a police officer the events of the day, which for a small Welsh village, will be the biggest set of events they have ever faced. This story is told in a range of flashbacks, with each one getting a different connection to the last, this will tie together the story, with the multiple branches that will come together to tell the story of what happened to a lone toll booth operator as his past looks to catch up with him. The story is told in a way that shows how in control the lead character is to ever event happening, he knows the cause and effect of each incident. Having two calm characters either side of the law, shows us just how calm the area is and how both sides believe they are safely in control of the situation.
Themes – The Toll is a crime comedy that is pitch black in the comedy levels, with each scene showing us just how out of the comfort zone most of the characters are in this world except for Toll himself, using the comedy to let them believe they are in control, with him giving the eye-rolling motion to their actions. The film will give us plenty of different crime branches to operate down, keeping us guessing as to what the next job would be, with the small Welsh village being used as the location, showing us that even in the quietest villages be things can be going down.
Signature Entertainment presents The Toll on Digital Platforms 27th August
Final Thoughts – The Toll is a deliciously dark crime comedy with an outstanding lead performance from Michael Smiley.