A story of hope and desire and a dream about an extraordinary world, this film marks the directorial debut of Richard Jobson, a former member of punk band The Skids and now a renowned film critic. Kevin Mckidd plays Frankie, a young man from Edinburgh trying to escape the violence and drinking that have had a turbulent effect on his life. As a young boy, Frankie saw his parents in an iconic way; his father was a ‘gunslinger’ hero type who he looked up to, but inevitably Frankie’s idealised image of can’t last forever. Having witnessed his father cheating on his mother and her sudden departure from his life, Frankie is now searching for the meaning of life by trying to understand the importance of his actions. He cannot escape who he is, but he can become a better man.
Jobson’s poetic script has something of the feel of a modern ghost story. Frankie is a man walking through his own past, desperately seeking a second chance in life. Tortured and tormented by a gang of skinheads he used to hang out with, Frankie starts to see and hear things differently and behave in a different way. Two female characters – firstly Helen and later Mary – open Frankie up to new experiences and seem to offer him the possibility of redemption; but, no matter how much Frankie thinks things are in his grasp, the past begins to leak into his heart like the vodka that used to run so readily down his throat. Hope for him becomes a hopeless place.
Jobson’s film is an education in the art of self-destruction, where sometimes things don’t work out as you hoped. Kevin Mckidd gives a very powerful performance as Frankie, a character desperately trying to come to terms with his past. Supported wonderfully by Laura Fraser and Susan Lynch, each character has a journey, though Frankie’s past constantly threatens their collective progression. Jobson uses a striking palette of ‘colours’ throughout the film to underpin the emotional undercurrent of each scene; one of the most effective devices is the use of still photography to illustrate Frankie’s happier times with the women he encountered.
The DVD extras capture all blood, sweat and tears that went into bringing this production to the screen. Jobson’s commentary gives you an informative insight into the material, how he wanted to create a sense of doom for his main protagonist, and his decision to use narration to create a lyrical poetic quality. He also describes how Edinburgh became its own character in the film and how simple it is to create an atmosphere through lighting and the right camera angle. The commentary makes a great listen for first time filmmakers, especially when Jobson is talking about his budget restrictions and how his choice of story made financing for the film even harder to secure.
A behind the scenes featurette informs the viewer that the director used some of his own experiences in the script but heightened them for dramatic effect. You also get the usual talking head interviews, on-set footage and a look at the writing process which describes how his poem evolved into a screenplay for the movie.