Remarkably bleak for a teen movie, this drama keeps us gripped as it throws its characters into an odyssey that's seriously harrowing. Gifted filmmaker Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and a fine young cast make sure that we feel every punch of emotion along the way. And the premise itself gets our minds spinning in unusual directions.
Set in the present day, violent uprisings are growing in Europe as 16-year-old Daisy (Ronan) heads from New York to Britain to spend the summer with her Aunt Penn (Chancellor) on a farm in rural Wales. A sullen loner, she tries to avoid her three chirpy cousins: the quiet genius Eddie (MacKay) is her age, while the more adventurous Isaac (Holland) is 14 and the younger Piper (Bird) is clingy and annoying. Then while Penn is away on business, the violence spreads to the UK, which descends into martial law. The cousins are divided and sent into care. But they promise to meet back at the farm, which is going to be an epic journey for Daisy and Piper if they can escape from their new home.
The story is told from Daisy's perspective, complete with glimpses into her troubled thoughts, dreams and nightmares. We're never sure why she is so deeply fearful of everything around her, but Ronan brings out her fragile mental state beautifully, then takes us along as Daisy is pushed to the limits and must find the inner strength to go forward. As a result, the other characters remain less-defined, although MacKay and Holland bring layers of interest to Eddie and Isaac. As Daisy's companion, Bird is much more present on-screen, and we're as irritated by her as Daisy is.
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And even though the story wobbles along the way, it's a vital, involving film.
Lucy (Windsor) is an 11-year-old living with her father (Carlyle) in Nottingham. But when a schoolteacher discovers that she has been violently beaten, she's placed in a care home, sharing a room with 16-year-old tearaway Lauren (Socha). Lauren takes Lucy on several rather illicit outings, constantly landing the pair in trouble. And when Lucy wonders why she can't live with her mother (Lynch), her social worker (Stacey) only says that it's not possible.
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Wendy Brazington, David Morrissey, Tony Grisoni, Rebecca Hall and Maxine Peake - Wendy Brazington, writer Tony Grisoni, Rebecca Hall, David Morrissey and Maxine Peake, Winner of TV drama, Red Riding, presented by Rob Brydon Tuesday 26th January 2010 at South Bank London London, England
Fulton and Pepe thrust us into the lives of the Howe brothers (Luke and Harry Treadway), conjoined by a small extension of flesh at the middle of their ribs. At the age of 18, they are picked up by music promoter Zak Bedderwick and coupled with manager Nick Sydney (Sean Harris, pure sleaze with the moustache to match) and bassist Paul Day (Bryan Dick) to start a rock band. The sessions bring out the differences in the brothers: Tom's quiet sensitivity and genius at guitar and Barry's outlandish and audacious singing. The band's sound emulates punk icons The Sonics and shreds out on stage as Barry taunts the audience to touch the flesh that connects him to Tom. Things go haywire when a woman, medical journalist Laura (Tania Emery), falls for Tom and rouses feelings of wanting freedom from the eccentric, often dangerous Barry.
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Told in his usual you-are-there style, with aggressive handheld cameras pursuing his subjects, Winterbottom keeps his story on the ground level, which is to say the human level. He hit his stride with his own brand of expressive naturalism with his Thomas Hardy adaptation, The Claim. One of the most prolific of modern filmmakers, Winterbottom brought joy to the world with his Manchester-based swirl of post-punk music in 24 Hour Party People.
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When I first saw the film in 1998, that's what I did.
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