Balance, Not Symmetry (2 stars)

Balance, Not Symmetry

Biffy Clyro provide the distracting soundtrack for this emotionally unsatisfying drama

British director Jamie Adams (Black Mountain Poets) and rock outfit Biffy Clyro collaborate on this low-key drama about grief, the creative process and female friendship. However, while fans of the Kilmarnock trio may be lured in by the soundtrack (for which the band produced an entire album's worth of material, released earlier this year), there's little else to recommend the film.

Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming) plays Scottish-American student Caitlin Walker, who's in her third year at the Glasgow School of Art. When her father unexpectedly dies, she tries to support her devastated mother Mary (Kate Dickie), while also dealing with her own grief and a creative blockage that threatens her final year project. To make matters worse, Caitlin falls out with her best friend and flatmate Hannah (The Florida Project's Bria Vinaite), someone who had always been her source of support.

Harrier and Vinaite do the best they can with what they're given, but the story, by Adams and Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil, is all over the place, frequently introducing characters (such as love interests played by Scott Miller and Lily Newmark) who then promptly disappear. The clichéd script has nothing notable to say, other than the fact that grief can aid the creative process and vice versa. It's also painfully pretentious in places – perhaps to be expected from a film set in an art school, but that doesn't make it any less grating.

Ironically, one of the biggest problems is the Biffy Clyro soundtrack itself, which is loud and overly aggressive and never seems to suit the story it's accompanying. All too often, scenes seem to exist just to have the band's music blared all over them and, if the lyrics are meant to feed into the action – the soundtrack was written alongside the film's production, with lyrics and dialogue occasionally interchanging – then they should have been a lot clearer. Devotees of the Scottish rockers will certainly get their money's worth in songs, but the film's failure to connect on an emotional or dramatic level is likely to leave everyone else cold.

Selected release from Fri 2 Aug.

Balance, Not Symmetry

  • 2 stars
  • 2019
  • US / UK
  • Directed by: Jamie Adams
  • Cast: Laura Harrier, Bria Vinaite, Lily Newmark, Freya Mavor, Tasmin Egerton, Kate Dickie, Scott Miller, Martin Bell, Conor McCarron

Caitlin (Harrier) is a Scottish-American student at Glasgow School of Art trying to cope with supporting her mother (Dickie) after her father’s unexpected death, as well as falling out with her best friend and flatmate (Vinaite). Harrier and Vinaite do their best, but the story is all over the place and Biffy Clyro’s…

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