The second film to come out of the three-part Scottish-Danish co-production project The Advance Party is a very different beast from the first. By contrast to Andrea Arnold’s disturbing thriller Red Road, Donkeys is a black comedy also set in Glasgow with some of the same, if re-imagined characters.
The lead, however, is new, an old rogue named Alfred (James Cosmo, excellent) who tries to rekindle relations with his estranged family, daughter Jackie (Kate Dickie) and son Stevie (Martin Compston) but his attempts at reunion prove to be typically cack-handed.
Much of the film’s humour stems from Alfred getting everything wrong, while its dramatic impact derives from his poignant determination to put things right. Co-written with Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig, Donkeys’ morbid, character-based humour is reminiscent of her own Glasgow-set comedy Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. But director Morag McKinnon, here making her feature debut, and her long-time writing partner Colin McLaren have also imbued the film with their own brand of absurdist humour.
Donkeys is a strong follow-up to its feted predecessor, one which benefits from the change of tone that establishes it as a film in its own right. And as an added bonus Donkeys is playing with a supporting short: Colin Kennedy’s hilarious tale of dogs and false teeth, I Love Luci.
GFT, Glasgow, Fri 8–Thu 15 Oct; Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Mon 1–Thu 4 Nov.