Writ/Dir: Barnaby Southcombe |Cast: Jodhi May, Jordan Bolger, Jessica Barden, Edward Hogg | UK Drama | 84′
Freed from the confines of the stage, for which it was written by Fiona Evans, Barnaby Southcombe’s seaside love story soars and never loses its footloose fun reflected in Ian Leggett’s energetic hand-held camera and limpid widescreen seascapes. It’s a more lightweight film that his standout noir I, Anna that starred his mother Charlotte Rampling as an enigmatic femme fatale. But his work is always charismatic and entertaining.
Intimate in scope but universal in its subject matter, SCARBOROUGH is a sensory exploration of love through a series of flirty and at times moving vignettes rather than a gripping narrative, and some of the dialogue feels cliched-ridden, but its lightly touching and thoughtful in its modest running time. And when people are coupling up or falling out, glib cliches often pour out volubly through guilt or even lack of imagination.
It sees two couples pursue impossible love stories. Both are generations apart and its clear from the offset that neither will be enduring. In love, longevity often trumps passion, and both the older lovers are in committed relationships that have stood the test of time, despite their downfalls, that seem connected to infertility on both sides.
The narrative sashays between the two couples. Jodhi May is lithe and luminous as a 45 year-old teacher in love with her muscular pupil Daz (Jordan Bolger), whose puppy-like naive enthusiasm could clearly wane. They’ve only actually spent 22 hours together during their snatched lunches and afternoon escapes. But she’s tried for years to get pregnant, and when the result comes through her demeanour changes. May brings considerable complexity to her role, despite its confines. His enthusiasm seems to dampen her ardour, and her maturity as a woman is shown through her skill as an actor.
The other two, Jessica Barden (Mindhorn) and Edward Hogg (Jupiter Ascending), are celebrating her birthday. He’s much older than the giggly twenty-something. Barden has a more difficult role and still feels slightly unconvincing. One always gets the impression she’s a kid and her duplicity makes things worse, especially with lines like “get her off the ‘phone, she’s proper ruining my day”, when he tries sensitively to split up with her girlfriend Chris over the ‘phone. This also seems to be the catalyst for some passionate love-making, yet great sex doesn’t always lead to commitment. Daniel York is particularly amusing in as the hotel manager in this extremely watchable drama. MT
NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE. | PREMIERED DURING WARSAW FILM FESTIVAL | 12-21 October 2018