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Albatross - DVD Review

Albatross

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NIALL MacCormick’s Albatross may be notable for marking the big screen debut of Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay but it’s also a smart little coming-of-age comedy-drama in its own right.

Shot before Findlay was even cast in Downton and partly inspired by screenwriter Tamzin Rafn’s upbringing, as well as her fondness for Wish You Were Here, the film is a keenly observed tale of friendship and sexual identity that is also comparable at times to the likes of An Education.

The film follows the fortunes of frustrated author Jonathan (Sebastian Koch) and his family, including daughter Beth (Felicity Jones), as they find their world turned upside down by the arrival of the free-spirited Emelia (Findlay), herself a would-be writer.

But while becoming a close friend to the more introverted Beth, Emelia also embarks on an ill-advised relationship with Jonathan and it’s only a matter of time before secrets are revealed and everyone has some growing up to do.

MacCormick’s film may trade from a familiar premise but it’s a journey worth taking thanks to the appealing nature of the performances.

Findlay, in particular, stands out, grasping the opportunity to tackle her first leading role, and delivering the type of performance that’s in complete contrast to her Lady Sybil in Downton.

She’s by turns outspoken and feisty, yet insecure and ill-equipped to deal with many of the situations she finds herself in. And her interplay with Jones, in particular, is terrific, providing a nice contrast of styles and a friendship you can believe in.

Strong, too, is the often silent relationship Findlay enjoys with her disapproving grandfather, played superbly by Peter Vaughn, which eventually gives rise to a couple of genuinely moving scenes between the two of them.

Less successful is her relationship with Jonathan, which feels contrived (especially given its unlikely starting point).

But coupled with the attractive use of location and the fast-moving nature of MacCormick’s direction, this is a winning showcase of budding British talent that makes you laugh and leaves you moved in equal measure… all delivered in a quirky, offbeat and totally British style.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: February 6, 2012