Over the course of the Belfast Film Festival, I am going to be posting short reviews of some of the films we see. Feel free to add your comments at the end of the blog and share any experiences you may have. Note, there may be spoilers, so beware.
First up, Shirley Adams.
This was an intimate, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother's struggle to cope with her disabled son.
The majority of the story in the first half was told through reactions and expressions rather than a great amount of dialogue, and with the lead character appearing in almost every frame, the viewer is forced in particular to analyse her thoughts throughout an often difficult-to-watch film.
The handheld, shuffling and very close-cropped camera work adds to the feelings of tension and discomfort for the viewer throughout.
An interesting sub-plot involving a departed husband who has left the family through an inability to cope with his son's disability, means the added feelings of rejection felt by both mother and son are clear to see and feel.
The interesting relationship between violence and poverty is hinted at throughout; a single act of violence leads to the utter destruction of a previously happy family.
Although a compelling story, the climax was perhaps a little contrived, with the build up removing some of the tension and surprise that could otherwise have resulted, but maybe I've seen too much Michael Haneke and have come to expect the surprise element...
Overall, a good start to what promises to be an excellet film festival, and speaking of Haneke, tomorrow night's film is Dogtooth, which has been compared to some of his work. Can't wait!
Shirley Adams (2009): 4/5