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Traveller - DVD Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

JOHN F. McDonald’s Traveller is notable for two things: marking the big screen debut of David Essex’s son, Billy Cook, and for co-starring Essex himself.

It also seeks to offer an insight into the traveller lifestyle in a non-cliched manner and features a supporting cast of real-life travellers (having also been filmed on a real travellers site). Unfortunately, the film itself struggles to keep you entirely gripped, emerging with – ironically – one or two cliches too many.

Cook plays Owen McBride, a young man – half Gyspy, half Gorgio (non-gypsy) – who finds himself torn between two ways of life once he saves a stranger’s life and gets caught up in a life-threatening situation.

With a gang of violent gangsters and the police on his tail, he is forced to go into hiding at his deceased father’s gypsy site, under the watchful eye of Blackberry (Essex), but also finds himself compelled to do the right thing and expose corruption within the local police force and council by allying himself with a dedicated female police officer (Kerrie Hayes).

McDonald’s film attempts to operate on an ambitious scale by offering a mix of gritty social drama with social commentary on the way travellers are viewed and treated. But while intriguing in fits and starts, and featuring decent performances from Cook, Essex and Hayes, the film often feels contrived, derivative of other genre movies and – ultimately – cliched.

McDonald may be attempting to show the world of travellers in a different light but several of his depictions conform to stereotype, which feels counter-intuitive. The same criticism can be applied to his portrayal of the film’s gangsters, who conform more to straight-to-DVD British film fare.

The overall result is a film that promises a lot more than it delivers and which, once viewed, drifts from memory fairly quickly.

Read our exclusive interview with David Essex

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: January 27, 2014