Published on August 1st, 2016 | by Allan Brown0
EIFF 2016: Away Review
UK Release Date: 7 October 2016
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director: David Blair
Writers: Roger Hadfield
Cast: Juno Temple, Matt Ryan, Timothy Spall
David Blair (The Messenger) directs British acting giant Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) along with the impressively versatile Juno Temple (Len and Company), in a crime thriller that delicately weaves the themes of redemption and reform set against the tawdry English seaside resort of Blackpool.
Escaping the vice grip of an abusive boyfriend, Ria (Temple) heads to the bright lights of Blackpool with a hesitant and rather despondent new acquaintance; Jospeh (Spall). But just as these two battered souls find solace and worth in each other’s company, a menacing shadow from the past threatens to resurface.
Through a series of carefully orchestrated flashback sequences, we learn how these two tortured souls came to be, and what indeed brought them together. Spall brings genuine authenticity to his role as a withered and desperate alcoholic. The pain and despair is real and his performance is utterly transformative. Temple also impresses in her role. Rather than just play the stereotypical damsel in distress routine, Temple skilfully balances the characters tough street kid exterior with a hidden depth, and as her defensive guard slowly lowers and her hardnosed exterior softens, we begin to see glimpses of the terrified girl who just wants to scream for help. Both leads are mesmerising and their character arc is both gripping and filled with genuine emotion, thanks to a shrewd screenplay from newcomer Roger Hadfield, that is bursting with rich character depth and a raw bubbling intensity.
The film makes full use of its location and as a result, Blackpool almost feel like a character in itself. The cinematography is fluid and almost documentarian in its approach. As the camera studies both Ria and Joseph in close proximity throughout, there is no hiding, all is up there on the screen, giving us, the audience, unrestricted access to our characters as they journey through their own personal hell. Its a brave move, but one that really pays off, not only because of its astute lead performances, but also the unwavering trust in the directors vision.
Despite the films bleak subject matter and flashback structure that – although handled well, does – at times, break the momentum of the here and now, Away (trailer) remains a thrilling and often extremely moving character drama, that is anchored by two exceptional central performances.
Summary: Away sits confidently somewhere between a Ken Loach and Shane Meadows drama, and despite its grey tone and desolate subject matter, the film remains a moving tale of hope and friendship that is wrapped around a thrilling narrative.