Albatross - DVD Review

'within the film's opening third Jessica Brown Findlay has flashed her breasts at a store clerk, embarked on an adulterous affair and come very close to receiving the sack from two jobs. Hoighty-toighty period piece this ain't'

Albatross is clearly Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay's attempt to break away from the 'Upstairs/Downstairs' constraints of period TV drama and, as far as that aim goes, this is probably the best role she could have picked. Emelia (Brown Findlay) is somewhat obnoxious, uncontrollable and the type of character described by the blurb on Indie film boxes the world over as 'a free spirit'. Within the film's opening third she's flashed her breasts at a store clerk (and the audience), embarked on an adulterous affair, spouted foul language all over the place and come very close to receiving the sack from two jobs. Hoighty-toighty period piece this ain't.

That said, director Niall MacCormick does seem to do his very best to present this as the pilot episode of a forthcoming series. The whole thing, set almost solely in a small coastal town, has the feel of something like Doc Martin, ordinary people going about their ordinary lives, whilst Emelia blitzes through, bringing some much-needed drama to the whole thing.

Indeed, Emelia and the drama she brings is part of the point. Albatross is, eventually, a film about being free, whatever that may entail. Jonathan (Sebastian Koch) is dragged down by the pressure imposed upon him to write a book, Joa (Julia Ormond) is dragged down by Jonathan's malaise, Beth (Felicity Jones) is dragged down by the town and her parents. The film's morals might be questionable come the finale (it is ultimately suggested that a bit of adultery can be a very good thing) but its message is clear; ditch the Albatross around your neck, head out to pastures new.

As such, MacCormick's film ends up being a nice little risqué Indie, with two well-crafted female roles in the shape of Emelia and Beth, both wonderfully brought to live by a standout Brown Findlay and an already-gone-on-to-bigger-and-better-things Jones (she stars in this week's Like Crazy). It falls into some typical Indie pitfalls (characters shouting loudly at nothing, for no reason. See: Garden State) but it avoids many more, including, by virtue of Tamzin Rafn's uber-smart script, the TV drama feel. A bit like Emelia, the story-telling can waver all over the place; from whimsical, to distracted, to smart and mega-focused but, with two main characters like this, MacCormick gets away with it and Brown Findlay comes away with the breakout performance she clearly coveted.




Albatross is released in the UK on DVD on Monday 6th February.

Look further...

'Warm, winning and very funny, Albatross is a resounding success that benefits greatly from a screenplay that moves between funny and heartbreaking seamlessly' - Front Row Reviews, 4/5

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