Saturday, 25 June 2011

Albatross ★★★☆☆

This nuanced coming of age drama embodies everything that independent British Cinema has recently become famous for. A combination of homely humour, eccentric relationships and a gritty underbelly of the social implications of the class divide make the corner stone of this much loved yet increasingly predictable format. All three of the aforementioned ingredients are present within Albatross however, this quintessentially British movie somehow manages to transform itself into a film which despite its generic and creatively suffocating approach to filmmaking is hard not to become besotted with.

This heartbreaking tale of a young girl’s quest to find her own identity against the constraints of an overbearing mother and emotionally distant father can at times seem a little heavy handed in its attempts to endear itself with an audience. Our central character should be Beth, a young girl moments away from leaving her family home to embark on university and all the life lessons that comes with it. Her parents run a guest house but that’s not their chosen career paths. Her father is a once famous writer, now suffering with writer’s block, whilst her mother is an actress whose decision to focus on family life and the resentment that can produce now rests like a noose around her neck. Needless to say it’s far from a happy home, so when Emilia, a young vibrant teenager arrives as the new cleaner a much needed injection of spice is added to the home, an element Beth rejoices in but the same could not be said for everyone.

Albatross, whilst on first impressions seems like a gloriously twee tale of teenage confusion the story never seems to have a clear aim. The focus swings all too often between Beth her father and Emilia’s individual worlds without clearly letting us know who’s story Albatross is. It feels messy and rushed like a child trying to please but in turn its eagerness still manages to create a feeling of enjoyable serenity out of this chaos.

Albatross is far from  the success it could well have been but its attempts to inject some much needed charm to the constrictive mainstream sensibilities of the genre must be commended. Whilst failing to making you fall head over heels for its quirky direction, Albatross’s mixture of some lovingly keen acting and infectiously joyful dialogue manages to at least make you hold it quite close to your heart.

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