3.5 out of 10
Release Date: 22nd April 2011
Director: Elizabeth Mitchell & Brek Taylor
Cast: Natalie Press, Colin Morgan and Janet McTeer
Writer: Elizabeth Mitchell & Brek Taylor / Jane Rogers
Island is the type of britpic that Channel Four would release every few months throughout the 1990s. Bleak, meandering, curious with bold pretensions. In this 21st century take on the quirky britpic it comes across as tired, sluggish and a bit bored with itself. Maybe as I’m getting older I’m losing patience with these kind of vaguely enchanting movies set at the edge of society revolving around people at our margins. But even if this had have come out in the 1990s it still would have paled in comparison to what else was around. I’m talking about movies like Dakota Road, Waterland, The Cement Garden, Madagascar Skin, I Want You, Butterfly Kiss and a few others. The story is slight and unconvincing despite good solid performances from Natalie Press (ILL MANORS) and Colin Morgan (MERLIN).
Nikki Black (NATALIE PRESS) is really Susan, the long lost daughter of island recluse Phyllis (JANET MCTEER – TIDELAND). Abandoned at birth, Nikki has decided to track her mother down, confront her and kill her. Renting a room in Phyllis’ remote cottage on a Hebridean island, her mission hits a bump when she meets her half-brother, Calum (COLIN MORGAN). He is an over-protected, sensitive man child with a propensity for storytelling about local myths. This softens Nikki because she also draws and writes her own similar story. Forging a bond of freindship makes Nikki more protective of Calum against their mentally unstable mother. And so it goes, a battle of hearts and minds for Calum’s loyalty begins.
The need to tell stories so often in the film (eventhough they serve as bold plot metaphors) only helps the mind drift away. I think I only bothered to follow one of the stories, because of the static camera and the hypnotic elements of wind and music that accompanied them. The main plot drags along at a sluggish pace and you can see where it’s all going 15 minutes in. Natalie Press is good as the fierce and bolshy Nikki. Nothing seems to faze her and no question is beyond a blunt ask. Colin Morgan does even better with a cliched role of local nut job. The third character of note is Janet mcTeer‘s Phyllis, who spends a lot of her time, wringing her hands and talking to herself in corners. She’s barely in the movie even though she’s probably in a lot of scenes.
The cinematographer and the location scouts deserve rewards for their work. The locations are amazing, with the hermitage being found at the foot of a small mountain and the island’s rigged beauty evoke thoughts of wonder. It’s just a shame that Island is such a ‘meh’ film. I miss the 90s when films like this were celebrated and taken a bit more seriously. Nowadays, they just come across as slight student projects.
3.5 out of 10 – Good acting and beautiful locations aren’t enough to make me recommend Island to anybody except myth lovers, hippies and seals (who may see someone they know).
REVIEW BY MATT USHER aka JOE PESCI II below.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THIS ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Natalie Press: Ill Manors, Cass, Nightwatching, Chromophobia, Red Road, Wasp (short), My Summer Of Love
- Colin Morgan: Legend (2014), Testament of Youth, Merlin (TV), Parked
- Janet McTeer: Angelica, The White Queen (TV), Parade’s End (TV), Albert Nobbs, The Woman In Black, As You Like It (2006), Tideland, The King Is Alive, Tumbleweeds, Velvet Goldmine, Carrington, Wuthering Heights (1992)