If described as a ninety-eight-minute boxing monologue, The Pyramid Texts may not seem like the most interesting piece of cinema. However, The Shammasian Brothers have used this template to provide an evocative analogy – based on screenwriter Geoff Thompson‘s hit play – on the hardships of life delivered through a career best performance from James Cosmo.
Cosmo’s Ray, a boxing trainer notes: “We’re all full of fear, some people just hide it better” as he sits in an empty ring and delivers his thoughts to a prepositioned camera. This is the general theme pulsing throughout Thompson’s fiery piece which begins as a discussion on the art (not sport) of boxing yet unwinds to provide the wizened trainer’s contemplative take on the human experience.
Shot in atmospheric black and white, The Pyramid Texts is a visual triumph. The empty boxing ring surrounded by photos of boxing legends and local history has an almost ghostly effect – a theme that fully ties in Ray’s analogy. Cosmo is framed magnificently throughout: the actor’s face is filled with bold expression and shot with winsome honesty. This is a man that has lived a full life and has the wise ferocity to prove it.
Thomson’s narrative crafts an intriguing analogy about life through the world of boxing – and whilst initially this may sound unappealing to those with no interest in boxing, Cosmo’s delivery and some moments of touching reflection ensure that this is analogy we can all connect with, boxing fans or not. As Ray addresses the camera in this ‘video letter’, he notes how fear holds every one of us back and how we hide from it through vices. Whilst not a wholly original discussion, Cosmo and Thompson’s rich prose make it feel as such in this stark emotional piece.
There are some heartbreaking blows as Ray bares his soul in The Pyramid Texts‘ third act and directors The Shammasian Brothers deliver them with a gut-punching emotional intensity. Even in terms of sound design, each blow to the punch bag, each pained line of dialogue from the broken trainer, the slightest sound is delivered with a powerhouse effect
The Pyramid Texts delivers heavyweight bouts of emotion thanks evocative direction from The Shammasians, Thompson’s thought provoking narrative, and an astounding performance from the mighty James Cosmo. It’s a moving experience.
[rating=4] Andrew McArthur
Genre: Drama | Edinburgh Film Festival 2015 | Screened: 18th June 2015 (UK) | Rating: 15 | Director: Ludwig Shammasian,Paul Shammasian | Cast:James Cosmo, Ethan Cosmo