Albatross Review

What’s in a name?

Some people place so much emphasis on where they come from in working out who they are, that this idea weighs heavily on their every deed and act.

Being the supposed great granddaughter of Arthur Conan Doyle in Niall McCormack’s debut feature Albatross, Emelia feels this more than most.

Not that she lets this affect her youthful lust for life, as she sets about getting her teenage kicks in whatever way she can.

And she can.

Her siren song of doing precisely whatever she feels intoxicates most everyone Emelia encounters on the sleepy Isle of Man.

None more so than the Fischer family, who employ Emelia as a cleaner in their upmarket b & b. She strikes up a pretty instant rapport with the Fischer’s teenage daughter, Bethany, who represents the sober ying to Emelia’s raging yang.

Bethany is a studious and hard working young woman who’s drawn to her new friend’s passion like a moth to a flame. Although she’s not the only one to feel the attraction of Emelia’s zestful approach to life.

Her joie de vivre also ignites the paterfamilias of the Fischer family, Jonathan, who’s one of those pretty tragic sorts; a man who used to be a writer but can only live off the success he tasted in his youth with his first book.

Jonathan’s long line of writing failures ever since has lead him to adopt an increasingly fragile façade, where he masquerades as a writer instead of actually just being one.

But of our three main characters, whose burden is the heaviest to bear?

Albatross is a charming sort of film, casting its stone as a coming of age story of two adolescent girls and one adolescent middle aged man.

Relying largely on young acting talent for its appeal, Rachel Findlay Brown as Emelia is never short of bewitching, the girl with enough energy to light up a room.

Or big screen even.

Either that or I just have a weakness for actresses who are larger than life.

Felicity Jones, the girl with the bee stung lips, continues her ascent up the acting ladder with a portrayal that highlights her versatility by playing the quiet yet blossoming Bethany.

And Sebastian Koch provides some Germanic gravitas as Jonathan Fischer, a man in a mid life rut who’s prepared to risk everything he has in search of a fresh muse.

The climax rather fizzles out by the end, as these slow burning yarns so often do, but Albatross is still a film that smells rather sweetly for the most part.

Jonathan Campbell

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October 2011
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