Island Review: Arty Farty (Emphasis On Fart)

island-300ISLAND: On Limited Release Friday 22nd April

To make an ‘arthouse’ film all you need to do is bung in some protracted pauses, unfriendly characters and hamfisted ‘themes’, right? Maybe one of the characters collects shoes. Maybe another one has had a difficult upbringing. Probably another one has a dark secret. So, few more boring pauses, a couple of seemingly exciting statements like “I’m going to kill my mother” annd.. *chews pencil*.. that’s the script done. Pint, anyone?

OK, so at least they’re trying. The press notes are full of words like ‘haunting’ and ‘isolation’, and tell us that members of the crew spent years doing things like ‘cataloguing the light’ on the remote Hebridean island on which it’s set. Years?! It breaks your heart. Because, as well catalogued as the light is, the film is an awful bit of pretentious faff that leaves you surprised it made the leap from dour festival drivel to cinema release at all.

That release seems to have the most to do with the presence of young Colin Morgan, a.k.a TV’s Merlin. A more apt way to sell a supermarket opening than a movie but, there you go. Natalie Press plays Nikki Black, a woman in her late twenties who announces at the off that she is planning to kill her mother, after suffering a life of misery in foster homes. Having located said mother on a far off Scottish island, Nikki lodges with her and her son Calum (Morgan) – Nikki’s half-brother – in cognito while purportedly completing a human geography project. What or why or how this came about is far too boring a detail for the film to explain. Instead Nikki spends time sat on her own, complaining or knocking about with her predictably weird half-bro. Calum collects “treasure”, bits of crap washed in from the sea. He says “treasure” in a wide-eyed, breathy way and hangs bottles off the washing line. He also says “shiny” when he reaches for Nikki’s necklace. You get the idea.

Meanwhile there’s some painfully laboured thematic stuff to do with fairytales and childhood, and an awful lot of pointless silences which the filmakers mistake to be pregnant with tension. The dialogue is un-remarkable, often irritating – Nikki, as a petulent, immature, painfully unsympathetic character, is a bore to spend two hours with -and some mild revelations at the end come only as a relief, as you realise that it must soon be over.

Look, it’s not offensive. It’s not sexist like Suckerpunch, or gaudy and puerile like Your Highness. But it is bland, and boring, and very, very long. I was planning my lunch and prising my eyes open after 25 minutes. Save yourself the trouble, and stay well away.