A Long Way From Home
- Alan Laidlaw
- 9 December 2013
Victoria Gilbert's unsubtle psychological drama falls short of its intentions
Dreams aren’t always as idyllic when played out in reality. This is the harsh lesson that the two central characters learn in BAFTA-nominated writer Virginia Gilbert’s feature debut, A Long Way From Home.
The film centres on the casual meeting of two couples: Joseph (James Fox) and Brenda (Brenda Fricker), who after retiring are living out their dream of French country life; and Mark (Paul Nicholls) and Suzanne (Natalie Dormer), a young couple who have come to France on holiday. In meeting each other, the couples’ hidden desires and regrets trickle to the surface and they realise that life in the French countryside isn’t all that their English romanticising has made it seem.
Gilbert sets out to create a tense psychological drama played out within beautiful French surroundings but A Long Way From Home falls short of its intentions. While it might aspire to the work of filmmaker Eric Rohmer, he was able to infuse his characters with both charm and infatuation, whereas Gilbert only succeeds in leaving a bitter taste, as the unsubtle gaze of James Fox uncomfortably looms over his infatuation. Throughout there are also visual devices and refrains which hammer home several clichés, telling us ‘a dying animal should be spared of misery’ and ‘the grass isn’t always greener’. Gilbert’s full length debut isn’t a complete shambles but where passion and tumult should exist, there is only a misguided intent to be found.
GFT, Glasgow, Fri 20 Dec—Tue 24 Dec.