6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Imaginative, intelligent and genuinely moving,
This review is from: Shell [DVD] (DVD)
Compelling realist drama set in an isolated petrol station in the Scottish Highlands. 17-year-old Shell (Chloe Pirrie) lives alone with her father (Joseph Mawle) at their garage, with little to occupy her other than caring for her sickly father, and serving the infrequent local customers. Despite a few amicable friendships with the locals she is virtually isolated from the outside, a young woman yet to find her place in the world and seemingly locked in a loving, but curious relationship with her father.
`Shell' is a small quiet film that is almost entirely constructed of tiny mannerisms and idle small talk, eschewing any hint of melodrama and instead summoning its power from its humanity and atmosphere. Both Shell and her father are clearly troubled, their faces plainly wrought with disquiet - the air is thick with the unspoken, and an unnerving melancholy runs through their lives and relationship. As a result this is an absolutely captivating, haunting watch laced with unpredictability. This simplicity is `Shell's real strength. Not a single word or second is wasted, every glance or movement carrying so much weight and intrigue it's impossible not to be drawn into this curious Scottish fable.
The cinematography is exceptional, and captures a sombre barren beauty in the Highland landscape with long static shots disrupted by the perpetual wind. This is counteracted with tightly framed imagery of the characters, allowing facial expressions and movements to communicate far more than dialogue. The tiny cast all deliver flawless performances. Pirrie in the title role is particularly adept, bringing the conflicted young woman to life with subtleties that hold a murky internal depth. That such a visceral unease is conjured with next to no music and an elusive narrative is astonishing and shapes the film into an experience bordering on the transient - both heavy and light at the same time. Even more impressive is the fact that this is the first feature from writer/director Scott Graham.
`Shell' is a hugely evocative little tale that is as economical as its title, possessing a haunting power that simultaneously lifts and dampens spirits. Imaginative, intelligent and genuinely moving.