Monday, June 10, 2013

Sydney Film Festival: For Those In Peril (2013)

Year: 2013
Director: Paul Wright
Cast: George Mackay, Kate Dickie, Michael Smiley, Nichola Burley
For Those In Peril will be screening at the Sydney Film Festival on the 10th and 12th of June 2013. For times, tickets and venues please see here

For Those In Peril is one of the strong frontrunners of the Official Competition at this year's Sydney Film Festival.

Paul Wright's debut feature length film is truly one of a kind. For Those In Peril is a very rare type of film for so many reasons. The unpredictability and feeling of satisfaction with the ending is a wonderful thing and you end up feeling one way when you are so positive you were going to feel another. The true nature of the film is revealed with the ending and you take home a completely different attitude towards it than you thought you would. What a beautiful thing.

Set in a Scottish seaside fishing village, outcast Aaron (George Mackay) is the only survivor of a strange fishing accident. Aaron's brother, Michael (Jordan Young) was also involved and is suspected dead, although no bodies have turned up. Aaron is ostracised from the town he lives in as everyone believes he is just a little too different and suspect that he has something to do with the accident. Meanwhile, Aaron will not stop believing that his brother and best friend is still alive and just waiting to be found.

It is just extraordinary for a debut film director to get it this right on their first attempt. In the Q & A session at the end of the film at the Sydney Film Festival, Paul Wright explained that he did all he possibly could with everything that he had available to him, and this is completely evident.

Wright uses a number of filming techniques to bring this tale of hope and loss to life. The film begins with news reel clips of the accident and the townspeople being interviewed, which are extremely realistic and at first make you wonder if you are watching a documentary. There are also several scenes were a handheld camera is used in order to create the impression that we are watching home videos which help us understand the characters and their lives before the accident better. The underwater shots are also exquisite.

It's in the very first few scenes that you really start to feel as though you are in this little seaside Scottish village with the characters. You can feel the chilly seaside air and smell the sea salt and fish. Whenever you see Aaron run into the ocean you get the chills thinking how cold it must be in that water.

The story, also written by Wright is wonderful. It captures the way people deal with loss brilliantly and how somebody in Aaron's situation is perceived. Even though you would believe people would look at it as a blessing that someone survived, but people blame him for their grief. Throughout the film, there are several endings you think may happen, but it still doesn't prepare you for the actual outcome. The outcome is one of complete closure for the audience and it really is amazing.

For Those In Peril makes stars out of George Mackay and Kate Dickie. Mackay is so believable as the awkward Aaron. You can feel his pain, but also his extreme belief that he won't stop looking for his brother. You feel for him when things go wrong and it's an absolute triumph in the most subtle sense when things go right. His whole performance is so subtle, but extremely effective.

Kate Dickie plays Aaron and Michael's mother, Cathy. She is wonderful and personifies everything that a mother would be in such a situation. She has lost one son and is trying to deal with her other surviving son being tormented and ridiculed by the town. There is one particular heart-wrenching scene when she shows that a mother has the same nurturing spirit in her no matter what age her son is and mothers will completely relate to this scene.

This is an incredible debut film for Paul Wright, but is an incredible and beautiful story regardless. It is a joy to behold.


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