EIFF film review: For Those in Peril

For Those In Peril star George Mackay. Picture: Contributed
For Those In Peril star George Mackay. Picture: Contributed
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YOU’D have to go back to Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher to find a Scottish debut displaying the kind of artistic conviction and promise that writer/director Paul Wright brings to bear on For Those in Peril.

For Those in Peril

Edinburgh International Film Festival - Cineworld Edinburgh

* * * *

Having won the 2011 Bafta for his short film Until The River Runs Red, he’s made an uncompromising and confident first feature, one that takes a difficult subject matter – post-traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt – and shapes it into an experimental, poetic and moving exploration of grief and the toll it can take.

It’s the story of Aaron (George MacKay), a misfit in a small Scottish fishing community who has become the focal point for the collective anguish of the town after surviving a tragedy at sea that has cost five local fishermen – among them Aaron’s beloved older brother Michael – their lives.

Numbed by the loss, Aaron is having a hard time accepting his brother is really gone and begins retreating into a dark, reality-blurring fantasy based on an old folk tale his mother used to tell him as a kid.

Wright depicts this subjectively by using multiple film formats to create visual and audio collages to signify Aaron’s disintegrating mental state (particularly as he gets it into his head he can somehow still save his brother and perhaps the other lost men too).

But he also keeps one foot in the real world by showing the impact of Aaron’s behaviour on his quietly despairing mother, Cathy (Kate Dickie), and his growing closeness to Jane (Nichola Burley), his brother’s fiancé whose presence seems to be the sole ray of light in Aaron’s darkening world.

Dickie, Burley and MacKay all do strong measured work in difficult roles here, allowing Wright to build to a strange and intriguing finale that gives the film a distinct allegorical feel.

It’s a film of rare ambition, one that marks Wright out as a talent to watch.

• Cineworld, tonight, 9:45pm and tomorrow, 12:20pm