Directed by David Mackenzie
Written by Peter Jinks (novel), Ed Whitmore and David Mackenzie (screenplay)
Screening at from 31st August
Should adaptations stay loyal to the book, or must the director’s
first priority be making sure the film flows properly? It’s a question
that’s taxed the brains of many handwringing reviewers with nothing
significant to worry about. But why bring ‘morality’ into
it? A film is either successful or it isn’t, and the director, writer
and viewer will all have a different idea of what success means. Personally,
I think this film isn’t particularly successful, because the most
intriguing traits of the title role are barely hinted at, in what - at
only ninety-four minutes - is quite a short movie.
Hallam Foe (Jamie Bell) is a seventeen-year-old who is struggling to
come to terms with both the death of his mother three years ago and adolescence.
Now his rich architect dad (Ciarán Hinds) has got re-married, Hallam
plays out a fantasy life hiding in a treehouse and spying on his step
mum (Claire Forlani) plus some other villagers from the rooftops of their
Scottish country pile. Eventually the interesting but poorly developed
lead character runs away for the bright lights of Edinburgh, and gets
a job at a hotel because the head of human resources (Sophia Myles) looks
like his mother. Soon he’s spying on her too, and so the film drones
on towards it pseudo-Freudian conclusion.
There are some saving graces. Giles Nuttgens’ cinematography is
certainly evocative, while Bell and Myles have excellent chemistry together.
But in many ways Hallam Foe feels a lot like Asylum, Mackenzie’s
last film, which had ambitions to be dark, disturbing, and deep, but never
got further than the most shallow and superficial psychology.
Still, it might be a decent book.