Opening 30 Aug 2007
Director David Mackenzie made this wonderful film about a 17-year-old boy in Scotland. Hallam Foe (Jamie Bell) keeps to himself, wears bizarre makeup and spies on his stepmother from the privacy of his treehouse. His own mother supposedly committed suicide by drowning, but he would rather suspect this intruder who married his father and makes him happy of murder. Certain conditions cause him to move to Edinburgh, where he picks locks in order to move into attics from where he clambers onto the roofs of the city at night like a homeless Spider Man. He is a lonely peeping tom until he spies a young woman who reminds him of his mother. In order to be near her, he takes a job washing dishes in the hotel where she also works. While spying on her, he is enraged to see that she is not perfect; in fact, she is having an affair with the married hotel manager. While watching the film I thought of Harold in Harold and Maude and Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, and I wasn’t surprised to find these characters mentioned in the production notes. Hallam Foe treats his parents like Harold treats his mother: in a totally obnoxious way. In the end, he doesn’t find a Maude, but he does find Kate (Sophia Myles), who firmly sets him on the right track. The ending is optimistic as Hallem comes to terms with himself and his life.
Jamie Bell, who became famous as the ballet dancer Billy Elliott, shows that without performing one dance step, he is an excellent actor and perfect for this role. The film showed in competition at the 2007 Berlinale, and I would have given Bell the best actor award; he deserved it. The film did win best music, and the soundtrack is full of the most wonderful songs by pop groups, mostly under the label of Domino Recording Co: groups such as Psapp, Test Icicles, Movietone, The Pastels, Junior Boys, Clinic, etc. Check it out or buy the soundtrack for a treat. This was based on the book by Peter Jinks. (Becky Tan)