Hallam Foe (4 stars)

This article is from 2007.

Hallam Foe

Opening Night Gala

David Mackenzie, UK, 2007) 95min

All four of talented Scottish filmmaker David Mackenzie’s features have premiered at the EIFF. Mackenzie’s latest, an adaptation of novelist Peter Jinks’ Edinburgh-set psychosexual romantic drama, is as good as any of his previous work. But, while Hallam Foe is no less compellingly perverse than, say, Mackenzie’s excellent adaptation of Alex Trocchi’s beat novel Young Adam, which opened the festival in 2003, it’s a far more upbeat, humorous affair – a rom-com its maker not altogether inaccurately calls it – and as such it’s a much better opening night prospect.

The titular hero (superbly played by Jamie Bell, flawless Scots accent and all) is an oddball young man who’s styled himself as a feral loner following the death of his beloved mother and the arrival in the Highlands family home of his father’s new, and, Hallam believes, gold-digging girlfriend. An erotic encounter with the wicked stepmother prompts the boy to run away from home, to Edinburgh where he takes a job and meets a woman (Sophia Myles, also superb) who bears a bizarre resemblance to his dead parent.

Insane kids and incest might not seem the stuff of rom-com, but Mackenzie treats the potentially disturbing material as a sweet romance filtered through black comedy. The unusual use of Edinburgh locations (mostly rooftops thanks to Hallam’s penchant for wall-crawling), Giles Nuttgens’ luminous cinematography, a breezy pop soundtrack comprised entirely of Domino Records releases, and a series of priceless turns from the support – Ciarán Hinds, Jamie Sives, Maurice Roëves, Ewen Bremner and Claire Forlani – ensure Hallam Foe is a real joy to behold.

Cineworld, 623 8030, 15 Aug, 9.30pm & 9.45pm, £10.45 (£7.60).

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