22 April 2016 | Raven-1969
Wedding dinner by candlelight, mist, the morning sun, . . .
Firelight, swells of the North Sea, hayfields, rain, a wedding dinner by candlelight, mist, the morning sun, green mountains, Scottish song, clothing fashions from a hundred years ago and the writing of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, are brought to life. It is said that nothing but the land endures, yet there is something about each of these characters – good and bad - that endures too. Intriguing characters include a sensual, pretty and bright young woman who loves the landscape and dreams of a better life, a strict and abusive farm family patriarch in desperate need of an intervention and anger management classes, and a young man turned bitter and cowardly by war and violence. The story is told mostly through the eyes of the young woman, Chris, as she grows and experiences hardships as well as bliss. It is amazing to witness her transformations through the people she comes in contact with, the land and the emotions she feels. Kindness, love, nature and light endure when we let them. Anger, violence and hatred make them the lovelier for that.
The director is obviously extremely experienced and capable at such historic United Kingdom stories. He invigorates the senses in sight and sound, and we even almost feel the emotions of the characters and smell the hay, mist and mud. I suppose this is the "memory realism" style I read about. Remarkably, and appropriately to the themes of the story, Davies does not shy away from the rawness of anger, sex, nudity and violence. He is equally adept at bringing out the beauty of the story as well as its darkness. There is exemplary acting here especially by the leads, yet with the exception of the one who played Ewan (each of his moods seemed the same to me). For those few who can differentiate between the sectors of Scotland, the film takes place in Northeast Scotland. The excitement of another "Florida premiere" was palpable (LOL!) at this 2016 Miami International Film Festival screening.