Thursday, 27 June 2013

Blackbird - EIFF 2013

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty"

Keats the romantic poet, the most romantic poet perhaps understood that in life, and in art, the only real beauty is found in truth.  That truth, of course, isn't answering every question asked of you with sledgehammer honesty...honesty and truth are, I think, different things altogether.  Truth is about the internal, the vision, the spirit of things where honesty is about the external, the surface of things.

"Blackbird" is a beautiful film because of the truth that lies at the heart of every element.

Things that matter are dying.

Language, culture, music, community, family and industry.

Each, thanks to the brutality of the modern world and the modern worlds seeming never ending desire to be more modern is being eroded and corroded.  Of course it is this very world that has created the conditions for a film like "Blackbird" to exist.

Ruadhan (Andrew Rothney) is jobless, feckless and, in one sense, homeless.  He spends his days trying to catch and collect fragments of the past from the elders of his coastal village.  Folk songs, sea shells, clothes pegs and an accordion all find their way into his boat.  A boat, that like Ruadhan, cannot set sail because it is rooted on the land.

When one of the old folks passes away and his guru, and tormentor, Alex (Norman Mackie) falls foul of frailty Ruadhan begins to realise that his chances of safeguarding the past he holds so dear is slipping away from him.  This and the arrival of Amy (Scarlett Mack) sees him tumble headlong into a depression that threatens to isolate him from his friends and his community.

There is always a danger that Scottish films, or films about Scotland, can become parochial or twee.  "Blackbird" manages to avoid both by being a film set in Scotland but that is about much bigger issues than just Scottish identity.  It is, instead, a film about love, about identity, about the modern world, about the past, about death, about life...universal themes that mean "Blackbird" flies high above the likes of any shortbread tin cinema experience you can think of.

A film with heart and soul and one that dares to be true and in so doing manages to be beautiful in every sense.  A haunting soundtrack that accompanies some of the most stunning cinematography I have seen at this years EIFF alongside lovely performances from the likes of Rothney, Mack and Patrick Wallace make this a film that also stands up to repeat viewings; I'm on my third in as many days.

"Blackbird"...truly beautiful.

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