Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
For Those in Peril: On the Scottish Sea
the sea is personified, it is always in a malevolent way. For many seafaring
Scottish villagers, there is a devil in the ocean. They are mostly speaking
figuratively, but the suggestion takes root in the grieving teenage protagonist
of Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in Los Angeles.
older brother Michael was always popular with their peers, while he was the
awkward one. Yet, somehow when their fishing boat encountered some sort of
mishap at sea, only Aaron returned. With no memory of what happened to the
others, he faces the village’s superstitious doubt and scorn as best he can,
but his own survivor’s guilt is even harder to bear. As time passes with little
social or emotional relief for young man, he becomes convinced his brother is
still out there, waiting for Aaron to rescue him from the sea.
from his wrung-out mother, only Michael’s almost-fiancée Jane offers Aaron any
support. However, that sort of compassion does not sit well with her loutish
father. Increasingly isolated and alienated, Aaron starts planning some
desperate and probably hopeless measures.
though Peril always stays safely
north of the Mendoza line separating proper cinema from genre film, a profound
sense of spiritual uneasiness permeates the film. It is an earthly tragedy, yet
like Aaron, we keep holding out hope for some sort of magical realism
deliverance. Wright compellingly evokes the feeling you can almost step outside
of time to correct some cosmic mistake if you only try hard enough, which those
who have experienced deep remorse will recognize only too well.
course, we cannot undo what is done, which makes it so painful to watch George
MacKay’s powerfully brittle lead performance. It is a quiet turn, but so
intense you can practically see the gaping wound in his psyche. Likewise, Kate
Dickie is nearly as devastating as the mother mourning her first son while
trying to save the second, However, one of the greatest surprises is the soul
and depth of Nichola Burley’s work as Jane, representing a quantum step up from
her party girl roles in movies like Donkey Punch.
If ever there was a film that could be described
as “moody,” it would be Peril, with
considerable credit due to the sad beauty of cinematography Benjamin Kracun’s
forlorn seascapes and penetrating close-ups. Wright masterfully controls the
vibe, but he might overdo the perceptual stylization a tad, here and there.
Regardless, it thunderously announces the arrival of its youngish talent,
including Wright behind the camera and MacKay and Burley in front of it.
Recommended for discerning audiences, For
Those in Peril opens this Friday (10/3) in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema.
Labels: Scottish cinema