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Show of Hands by Anthony McCarten

Anthony McCarten is a man of many talents.

In an impressive display of classic number eight wire ingenuity, the Kiwi has written a book, adapted the book into a screenplay and directed the screenplay - and the book and film have been released at exactly the same time.

I bet he deserves a holiday.

McCarten's book was set in London, while the film is set in Taranaki. Fortunately Show of Hands has a fairly universal premise: a bunch of strangers forced into an unlikely situation in which only one will conquer... or so it seems.

In London, a struggling car salesman concocts an innovative plan to get the punters buying: an endurance test, in which 50 strangers lay a hand on a Landrover Discovery in the hopes of outlasting the competition and taking home the car.

In one corner is Jess, mother of a disabled daughter in need of transportation. In the other is Tom, who plans on selling the car the moment the final hand slips. Jess and Tom are joined by a motley crew of unlikely competitors.

The competition drags on... and on... and unfortunately, Show of Hands suffers for it. While McCarten successfully captures the monotony of endurance events, we're left wondering if it's worth us hanging in there for the climax.

Tom is, frankly, awful. McCarten has done a thorough job of creating a completely obnoxious character, so much so that when it comes time for his inevitable epiphany, it's difficult to care. 

However, McCarten has craftily employed a couple of devices to keep readers hooked.  The twist at the end is surprising, and a fast food competition between two unlikely competitors provides moments of hilarity.

Rating: 5/10

Show of Hands by Anthony McCarten

RRP: $29.99
Published by: Random House
Now, from all good book stores

Click here to read Darren Bevan's review of the film adaptation of Show of Hands