Full of the best of intentions, Away has very little else to offer. The actors give it their all, but the plot loses interest in them just as we lose interest in the film.
The actors give it their all, but the plot loses interest in them just as we lose interest in the film.
Two very different individuals find themselves with no one else to turn to but each other in the bleak setting of Blackpool. Here a depressed widower (Timothy Spall as Joseph), intent on drinking himself to death is followed by Ria (Juno Temple), a runaway girl who is running for the best of reasons.
Escaping an abusive boyfriend, who also dabbles in drug-dealing, Ria feels safe around Joseph after a chance encounter. He, however, just wants to forget the pain he feels following the death of his wife. As the furious ex pursues Ria, wanting more than just her back, the pair are in desperate search of salvation… but are they better off alone?
Blackpool lacks the glamour of Las Vegas, but it also lacks the sleaze. The setting should have more of an edge, or at least some romance to it. The way Joseph stumbles around in the perpetual grey gloom of the seaside resort, you kind of feel like topping yourself off too.
The film lacks any real energy, and a big reason for this is the clumsy way in which it is structured. Flashbacks revealing the events before the grand escape up North, are delivered in chapters and the action cuts back and forth. We are taken out of the moment every time things threaten to get exciting. Worse still, its all unnecessary as we can guess exactly what has happened.
The drug dealer is chasing the pair… I wonder what was taken from him?
Timothy Spall holds onto the anguish of Joseph to good effect, and at least his reveal packs an emotional punch, but by that time you’ll be too bored to care about much to do with the movie.
Spall and Temple work well together, and there is little to fault in the performances, but its a real shame they are given next to nothing to work with. They walk round in circles and if the backdrop isn’t effecting their mood, it certainly hits the viewing like a black dog leaping on top of them.
Director David Blair has made a few films before, but is better known for his work on the small screen. There is a lack of scope at times to his work. The bubbling tension when Ria enters a soulless fruit machine den could have played out with some real visual flair, but instead we are given a matter-of-fact meeting with some minor characters who only reappear towards the end to deliver a flat punchline.
The is clearly a wish for this to come across as a British Lost in Translation, but you would have to look really hard to give Away that much credit. There is nothing wrong with lofty ambitions, but probably best not to set yourself up for this dramatic a fall.
There is nothing wrong with lofty ambitions, but probably best not to set yourself up for this dramatic a fall.
The ending also undermines what has gone before by leaving gaping plot holes that the characters would find impossible to explain in real-life.
Away feels like it wants to be an American indie film, the sort that people theorize about for years, but instead it is sadly one of those British films that will disappear very quickly.
Away will be released in the UK on October 17, 2016, and was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival.