Friday, 12 November 2010

Donkeys - Filmhouse - 1/11/10

A sequel?

A re-make?

A re-imagining?

A new film?

Tricky one this.

"Donkeys" is the second part of the Lars Von Trier inspired "trilogy" of films which began with "Red Road". The rules of the project are that three directors (English, Scottish, Danish) will make three films but use the same characters and, where possible, actors to tell their stories. So here we are re-united with Kate Dickies "Jackie" and with Martin Compstons "Stevie" from "Red Road" but here they are different versions of those characters...are you following this?

Where Dickie was the central performer in "Red Road" here she plays support to the titanic James Cosmo. Cosmo is "Alfred" the estranged father of "Jackie" and, at least initially, the unwitting father of "Stevie". He is a man who has spent his entire life avoiding responsibility and truth...director Morag McKinnon confronts him with the ultimate truth; his mortality and allows us to watch what happens.

"Red Road" was a huge film and one which garnered a lot of praise for both Andrea Arnold and for Dickie, following a film like that must be daunting. Many directors may well have decided against participating in this project following that success but McKinnon has stepped up to the mark and managed to create a film that is easily the match, if not the better, of "Red Road". Blending moments of humour that had the audience, literally, crying with laughter with scenes of such powerful, raw, emotion that the laughter dries but the tears continue to flow.

McKinnon has also managed to draw a performance from Cosmo that may well stand as the finest moment in a career that spans over 40 years and that includes television, film, theatre, comedy, drama and goodness knows what else besides. Directing "big names" like Cosmo and Dickie would be daunting for the most well versed and experienced of directors so great credit must be given to McKinnon who is at the beginning of her career.

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