Skeletons - DVD Review

'various references are made to 'having gifts' and being 'one of us' but Whitfield avoids developing the mythology any further than these obtuse dalliances'

Skeletons secured some much-needed publicity for itself last year when it scooped Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival, going on from that to receive a nomination for Best British Debut at the BAFTAs.

Written and directed by Nick Whitfield, Skeletons is not, on the face of things, your regular awards contender. It's a loose, largely genre-less, indie, which doesn't bother explaining much about who its characters are or who they work for and just gets on with its vaguely paranormal plot about a pair or exorcists who exercise not ghosts, but secrets. As ideas go, Whitfield has hit a cracker.

Little and large pair Davis (Ed Gaughan) and Bennett (Andrew Buckley) travel to clients' homes to drag secrets (the titular Skeletons) out of closets, thus, supposedly, cleansing their lives. No greater explanation of what is going on is offered than this. Jason Isaacs shuffles about gruffly in the background from time to time as the duo's boss and various references are made to 'having gifts' and being 'one of us' but Whitfield avoids developing the mythology any further than these obtuse dalliances.

What this allows him to do is present his tightly scripted piece with a great deal of focus on the warmth (or otherwise) of the character interactions and on the subtexts lurking beneath what appears on the page. There's a lot here about absentee parents, absent people in general and our need to find a connection to them in some way, despite the troubling consequences. There's also ideas about observation and how the looking glass of someone else's life will inevitable turn into a mirror of our own.

The film is darkly comic - but never threateningly so - well thought out and involving for long stretches and the central duo of Gaughan and Buckley are perfect. Support from the fantastically named Paprika Steen and Tuppence Middleton, as Mother and near-silent Daughter, is also excellent with the latter in particular excelling sans-dialogue. The ending is a little twee but the middle section (where the secrets prove rather difficult to extract... from everyone) is a joy and the entire package is slick, enjoyable and innovative.




Look further...

'it’s not very often a low budget British indie leaves me thinking after the credits but Skeletons did' - EatSleepLiveFilm, 9/10

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