Set in South Wales in 1989, I Know You Know tells the story of single parent father Charlie Callaghan (Robert Carlyle) and his eleven-year-old son Jamie (newcomer Arron Fuller). Written and directed by Human Traffic’s Justin Kerrigan, what is remarkable about this film is that it is actually an autobiographical narrative based on his own upbringing.
The film starts with Charlie and Jamie’s return to Wales. Though their hometown is familiar and they have elderly relations nearby, it’s clearly a step down from what they are used to, and Jamie doesn’t want to go to the local secondary school, but he knows he must grin and bear it – and even the bully who taunts him on a daily basis – because his father has an important job to do there. This job sees him embroiled in covert activities, seemingly against the new satellite TV company that is being rolled out nationwide, and the payday he promises will be big. However, it appears that there are people in town who want to stop Charlie from concluding his espionage mission; they follow his every move and he is so fearful for his life that he goes everywhere armed with a gun. As Jamie discovers the extent of his father’s secret existence, he pledges to be utterly supportive of him – but is the real truth of Charlie’s existence more dangerous for each if them than the boy could ever imagine?
Being autobiographical, Kerrigan’s film is clearly a real labour of love, and one that took several years to get off the ground. Its final realisation may be hampered by a small budget more at home to a one off TV drama than an actual feature film, but the beating heart at the centre of the narrative more than makes up for any shortcomings. Combined with impressive performances from Carlyle and the young Fuller in his film debut, I Know You Know is an emotional, heartstring-tugging ode to the bonds between father and son. It’s a film you can’t really talk about too much without giving the plot away, so I’ll just say watch it if you can.