The Benefit of Doubt tells the story of Ariadne (Hannah Croft), a woman who finds herself single after ten years in a relationship, and who is now in her mid-thirties unsure as to what to do with her life.
Deciding to go on holiday to Nice, she drifts around before encountering Nick (Nick Marwick), an actor who has just taken, and who is about to start, a job teaching in order to supplement his attempts to break into the world of theatre and film.
Finally, she then also encounters Greg (Greg Rowe), a drifter who also finds himself in the south of France.
The three strike up an unlikely friendship as they walk around Nice discussing life, love and also their sense of doubt regarding their validity or worth in the world.
The film is inspired by the myth of Ariadne from Greek mythology. Having helped Theseus to defeat the minotaur by giving him a thread of wool, Theseus fulfils his promise to help her to escape from Crete and her tyrannical father, King Minos.
However, Theseus quickly abandons Ariadne on the shore of Naxos – leaving her alone and without support. Fortunately, Dionysus/Bacchus turns up and the two get married and have children.
And so, The Benefit of Doubt also features Nick and Greg as two aspects of Bacchus: one as the god whom most people do not consider to be a ‘true’ god (a struggling actor who is not recognised) and the other as a man of wine and the life Bacchanalean.
To be shot by Beg Steal Borrow stalwart Tom Maine, the film will draw upon both the numerous artworks and artists that are on display in or near Nice – from museums dedicated to Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to nearby places dedicated to art naïf, modern and contemporary art and, in St Paul de Vence, the Fondation Maeght – as well as upon other films.
For, The Benefit of Doubt certainly takes inspiration from Jean Vigo’s classic 1930 experimental documentary, À propos de Nice, as well as from films like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Eric Rohmer’s Le rayon vert/The Green Ray, which sometimes is also referred to as Summer.
The film reunites various Beg Steal Borrow regulars, including director William Brown, cinematographer Tom Maine, actors Hannah Croft (En Attendant Godard), Nick Marwick (Afterimages, Common Ground, The New Hope) and Greg Rowe (The New Hope), with Andrew Slater (Afterimages, Common Ground, The New Hope) helping on the production side of things, together with contributions from Annette Hartwell (The New Hope) and Lucia D. Williams (Common Ground, The New Hope).
The film will also feature some first-time contributions from Nice local Mark Hodge. And music-man David Miller (Common Ground, Ur: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux, The New Hope) will be providing music for the score, together with original pieces by Amy Holt (who also did music for The New Hope and Circle/Line) and Alex Fixsen. The film will also feature music by up and coming deep house artists Sam Pauli and Reiver (of Chapter 24 fame).
Filming took place in Nice between 1 and 9 October 2015. The film has since been in post-production, with Oliver Campbell coming on board in September 2016 as executive producer and filmmaker-artist Francisco Janes carry out a sound mix for the film.
Latterly, additional dialogue recording was done in 2018 after months of trying to track down the actors. A new mix and cut of the film was then done in early 2019, after a hard drive with the whole film on it had been wiped by accident – with the film reconstructed from various sources.
You can view the trailer here: