Sunday 26 August 2007

Hallam Foe (2007) - ickleReview (cinema)

Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot (2000)) stars as the likeable creep, Hallam Foe, in this well made British film directed by David Mackenzie and set in Edinburgh. Hallam lives with his architect father (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) and step-mother (Claire Forlani) in a castle-like Scottish country house. His sister is leaving for a gap year in Australia and he should be going to college. His mother died in a drowning accident a few years ago. Since then, Hallam has developed some dysfunctional habits. He spies on people from his treehouse, painting his face and wearing a badger hat. He blames his step-mother for his mother's death, accusing his father of having an affair before she died.

After a confrontation with his step-mother over the content of his diaries, he goes to live in Edinburgh, getting a job as a kitchen porter in a large hotel, his primary motivation being that the HR manager, Kate (Sophia Myles), reminds him of his mother. He continues his voyeuristic habits by spying on Kate from the rooftops. Luckily for him, she likes creepy guys, so they soon have a relationship.

Despite the sinister themes, this is a charming black comedy. Bell is a likeable character and has matured well from his child acting days. His east-coast Scottish accent is convincing enough.

There are some nice touches in this film. We see Hallam practising picking locks in his treehouse before he later uses this skill to break in to a few places in Edinburgh. (Compare so many other movies whose characters magically know this skill already - presumably from seeing other movies.) The plot is more character driven, but still keeps you wondering what might happen next. When his parents catch up with him in Edinburgh, by which time he has been promoted to front-of-house porter at the hotel, there is a genuine sense of drama over what might happen next.

Nugget: a mature British film with some nice small performances, including Ewen Bremner (Spud from Trainspotting) as Hallam's fellow hotel concierge.

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