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Living Apart Together (4 stars)

Restored 80s lost drama about a Glaswegian pop star starring singer-songwriter BA Robertson

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Living Apart Together

Made for fledgling network-broadcaster Channel 4 in 1982, writer/director Charlie Gormley’s film might seem like an odd choice for restoration; this clearly isn’t a masterpiece in disrepair, but a humble homegrown proposition. Yet after several decades of obscurity, the re-release of Living Apart Together from Park Circus reveals something of a hidden gem, a natural and insightful look into the damage that a public media profile can cause when inflicted on private lives.

Singer-songwriter BA Robertson stars as Ritchie Hannah, a successful pop star who lives in the fashionable West End of Glasgow with Amy (Barbara Kellerman). When Amy walks out, Ritchie embarks on a casual relationship with Alicia (Judi Trott), but the separation causes a strain on Ritchie’s family and friends, including Steve (Dave Anderson) and Jake (Jimmy Logan). A bruising encounter with some local thugs forces Ritchie to wake up to the ramifications of his own personal infidelities, and take his responsibilities as a father more seriously.

Living Apart Together has gained from being lost for several decades; the reliance on natural locations now make it seem like a time capsule of local delights, from gaudy Woolworths signs to forgotten Glasgow nightspots like DeQuincey’s, and Robertson’s vertically loading gramophone is a sight to behold. But beneath the retro-style, Gormley’s film feels decidedly modern in the way it deftly probes away at Ritchie’s West of Scotland machismo, revealing an inner darkness behind his well-crafted tunes.

A delightful scene in which Robertson, Anderson and Trott break into a spontaneous dance is a clear lift from Godard’s 1964 classic Bande à Part, but also lays bare the ambitions of Gormely’s film: rather than aping Hollywood dramas, Living Apart Together aims for the unforced sophistication of French cinema, and the mix with pawky Glasgow humour makes for a beguiling blast from the past.

Screening at Glasgow Film Festival, Sun 24 Feb.

Living Apart Together

  • 4 stars
  • 1982
  • UK
  • 140 min
  • 12
  • Directed by: Charles Gormley
  • Written by: Charles Gormley
  • Cast: B.A. Robertson, Barbara Kellerman, Judi Trott

Ritchie (Robertson) is a successful Glasgow pop star whose life starts to unravel when girlfriend Amy (Kellerman) walks out on him. The late Charlie Gormley's 1982 film may feel like a time capsule of local delights, but its probing of Ritchie's machismo is decidedly modern. A beguiling blast from the past.


1. Jmacinnes8 Oct 2013, 9:32pm Report

Was just talking to my daughters friend who is interested in photography and films when I tell her about one Of the ones I worked on in the eighties but couldn't get a copy of, log on and check again and find it was remastered and released again in Glasgow this year, it was Living Apart Together, there was a lot of fun making that movie, many funny stories. I supplied the stunt and continuity vehicles for this film and had a small part coming out of the black Corvette at the crash scene really enjoyed working on the movie, just downloaded it from iTunes, keep up the good work of bringing Scottish made movies back the eighties where a good time in Glasgow for making films. ( PS if you read this David Brown be nice to see you again must have kept your old Ford consul for a year. )

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