Monday 22 January 2018

Plot gets lost at sea

Plot gets lost at sea

For Those in Peril (No Cert, IFI, 92 minutes)

Director: Paul Wright. Stars: George MacKay, Kate Dickie, Michael Smiley, Nichola Burley.


There's no doubting the technical accomplishments of Paul Wright's poetic debut feature, which is set in an unspeakably bleak Scottish fishing village and stars George MacKay as a young man haunted by a recent tragedy. In a promising opening sequence, Mr Wright uses montage, fake TV news reports and a free-floating camera to introduce us to the plight of Aaron (MacKay), a late teenage boy who's the sole survivor of a recent trawler tragedy in which his elder brother Michael and four other local men died.

Aaron is clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress, and wanders the town disconsolate and Hamlet-like, wondering where his brother might be. He can't accept that he's dead, and his immature mind is further muddled by childhood stories his mother Cathy (Kate Dickie) told him about a sea monster that cursed the town. He's convinced he'll find Michael if he can only persuade someone to take him out to sea, but to the superstitious locals he's a Jonah, a cursed outcast who lived while his betters died.

For Those in Peril is tortured stuff, well put together for the most part and nicely acted by MacKay, Dickie, Nichola Burley and the invariably excellent Michael Smiley. But Wright's visual flair is not matched by his meandering screenplay, and despite its early promise his film descends into pointless mysticism. His story is drowned by its own pretention, and handheld camera techniques become tiresome after a while.

Irish Independent

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