Billie Piper is one of those people you could easily forget has been in the entertainment business for a long time now, 1998 being the year she broke on to the scene with her hit single Because We Want To (proper throwback right there), before becoming a household name in Britain with a major role in the Doctor Who revival in 2005. A string of appearances in mostly TV shows since has led to the present, where Piper makes her directorial debut with Rare Beasts, an anti rom-com that certainly possesses some bite.

Mandy (Billie Piper) is a career-driven single mother who falls in love with the charming, traditionalist Pete (Leo Bill). This isn't the kind of romance you're used to seeing in a rom-com mind.

Opening with Mandy and Pete on a date, Rare Beasts ensures the audience knows the tone being set for the film with a conversation that has to be heard to be believed, Pete claiming he finds women intolerable before discussion turns to whether Mandy's mouth would be good for giving oral. It's a bold start to Piper's career as a writer and director, the dialogue certainly striking however, it all feels as if it's trying to be a little too edgy which is a problem that the film faces throughout.

I'm all for breaking conventions and bringing new ideas to the table, Rare Beasts bringing dysfunctional relationships and insecurity to the fore in a confident manner from Piper. There's no denying the potential she has as a filmmaker with a distinctive voice, it's just this debut wasn't able to keep me engaged from start to finish, the characters being quite hard to take to so it was always fighting a bit of a losing battle in that sense.

Piper leads the film with a fine performance, Mandy not there to take any bullshit from anybody as fractured relationships with her own family has shaped her into a bit of a formidable force. Leo Bill's Pete makes for an interesting love interest for Mandy, their verbal sniping at each other better suited to enemies it would seem and Bill is more than a match alongside Piper in the lead roles. 

It's an admirable directorial debut from Piper however, Rare Beasts misses the mark slightly for me when it comes not being a rom-com we're so used to these days. Keen to see what Billie Piper produces next.

Verdict: ★★½


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