4 February 2021

Kieran Evans's Kelly + Victor (2012)

In 2000 Niall Griffiths published Grits, a powerful novel of marginals in Aberystwyth, and this was followed the year after by Sheepshagger, also a very powerful story, written in the vernacular, of marginals in Wales. One of Griffiths's influences is Ron Berry, although I'd guess that there is also an attempt to write like James Kelman in another locality. It seemed that a very promising, very talented new novelist was immerging, and then Kelly + Victor, set in Liverpool, was published in 2002. I found this very disappointing compared with the previous two novels, but then Griffiths was writing at the pace of a novel a year. His friend Kieran Evans chose to make a feature film of the third novel.

This is certainly an improvement on the book, although there are inevitably many differences. Kelly meets Victor at a club, they go to her place, snort coke and have sex, during which Kelly bites Victor. But Victor can't get Kelly out of his mind and when they next meet they go to Sefton Park,  the Walker Art Gallery, and seem like a perfectly normal love-struck couple.

But then there's the next sex session, in which Kelly displays her sadistic tendencies by drawing 'K + V' glass on his back with a piece of broken glass. It's hardly surprising that he breaks off with her, although with great difficulty for Victor, who even tries out his own masochistic tendencies by practising auto-erotic asphyxiation.

It's when Victor finds Kelly in the street after being beaten up by a former boyfriend that he rushes her to hospital and they briefly become partners again. Briefly, that is, because during sex she keeps half-strangling him, which is a great pleasure for them both until she reaches the moment of no return and accidentally kills him. I was wondering how Victor would die in the film, as I couldn't imagine Kelly playing with his internal organs by fisting, as in the book.

As I said above, the film is an improvement on the novel, although billing this stuff as a modern love story seems to being going way too far.

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