Showing posts with label Nichola Burley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nichola Burley. Show all posts

1 March 2014

DVD Review - For Those In Peril (2013)

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Soda Pictures
Rating: 18
DVD Release Date:
3rd March 2014 (UK)
Paul Wright
George McKay, Nichola Burley, Katie Dickie, Michael Smiley
Buy: For Those In Peril [DVD]

British cinema has long since been known for its realist aesthetic with directors such as Ken Loach (Kes, Raining Stones, and Ladybird, Ladybird) and Mike Leigh (Life Is Sweet, Naked, and Secrets & Lies) working at the forefront of our national cinema within a social realist idiom. In more recent years, with Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Andrea Arnold’s more recent Fish Tank springing to mind, the traditional realist mode as changed context and become more poetic in its form. And now we have Paul Wright, whose debut feature For Those in Peril uses local folklore to transcend the boundaries of realist cinema and imbue his story with a sense of magic.

The film concerns itself with the guilt and need for redemption that take their toll on Aaron (George Mackay), the lone survivor of a fishing accident that claimed the lives of several young men including his own brother. With the local townsfolk of the remote Scottish fishing community in which he resides either blaming him or resenting him for being the only one to return, and with his only solace coming from his mother (played by the excellent Kate Dickie) and his dead brother’s girlfriend Jane (Nichola Burley), Aaron retreats into his own world. With the conviction that his brother is still alive and after taking literally the fable his mother used to tell him as a child, he sets out to rescue his brother from the belly of the monster at the bottom of the sea.

My initial reaction when I watched the film was that the use of folklore to lift the film into the realms of magical realism was, as other critics have been eager to point out, a major misjudgement that diverts our attention away from the films compassionate and intense psychological core. But upon reflection the real problem isn’t anything to do with the films magical elements but more to do with the 18 certificate given to the film, because this film does work as a children’s fable, albeit a dark one, that should be made available for a younger audience. For while the film still has its problems, namely the credibility of the townsfolk’s resentment of Aaron, the film is an ambitious debut that deserves to sit alongside Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, and Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen as a children’s film that has fallen foul of the BBFC’s rating system.


Shane James

1 October 2013

For Those In Peril Review

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Rating: 18
Review Date:
4th October 2013 (UK)
Paul Wright
Kate Dickie, Michael Smiley, George MacKay, Nichola Burley, Brian McCardie, Gavin Park, Jordan Young

British cinema is great at taking quaint environments and turning them into Hell. We also have a penchant for misery and wasted lives, both of which you’ll find abundantly in Paul Wright’s impressive feature debut For Those in Peril, a keyhole into the social mechanics of a small fishing community in Scotland.

After a tragic accident takes the lives of five young fishermen, Aaron (George MacKay), the sole survivor of the tragedy which also claimed his older brother, is left in a steadily growing state of social detachment as the town around focuses their grief on him.  Mackay shines as a social outcast, a loner before the tragedy and even more so after with little to live for in a town that sees survivors as a constant burning reminder of tragedy. Wright’s choice to include sound snippets of news coverage/interviews with locals helps explore the small town mentality and collective hatred for Aaron, who’s only crime is retaining a childish mind in a place that demands manhood sooner as opposed to later. As the film goes on and Aaron’s actions become slightly more elusive in the face of hatred, the audience starts to see that in treating someone like a monster, especially someone with serious trauma, you can end up making them one. Kate Dickie lends her talents as Aaron’s troubled mother, single-handedly providing a sort of normality bar with which to compare the rest of the town to, she’s also where most of the film’s heart comes from, hers being possibly the most heart-breaking story of all. The relationship between Dickie and Mackay is frankly one of the most impressive pairings in ages.

Aaron’s obsession with a fairy tale around a monster in the sea becomes more vivid as the film progresses, just as the town’s contempt for him does. Wright punctuates an otherwise muted cinematography with moments of vivid colour and crushing darkness to better convey the collapse of Aaron’s reality: as his guilt flares so does his anger at the “monster” and his alienation from family and friends comes full circle so that he descends into a sort of childish dream.

There’s a very honest quality to Wright’s camera and the performances of his stars, nothing out-there, nothing melodramatic, just a well worked story of people and their relationship to the world around them.  At some points the film can maintain a palate too drab and spend too much time following Aaron’s isolated wanderings to the point of angst, but by the end Wright proves he has the vision to deliver an emotionally charged whopper of a finale that allows this quant wee Scottish sea-side affair to rest on more breath-taking grounds.

Not just a run of the mill sombre British piece about rural environments, For Those in Peril is a heart-wrenching narrative of guilt and redemption with a daring final direction and stand-out performances from two of Scotland’s finest.


Scott Clark

This is a repost of Edinburgh Film Festival post at Cinehouse