Dir: Karl Golden. UK. 2009. 99mins

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Director Karl (The Honeymooners) Golden makes a significant career advance with his assured adaptation of the 2005 Cris Freddi novel Pelican Blood, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The tragic tale of a corrosive amour fou is recounted with lyrical intensity and charismatic performances.

Pelican Blood might feel overly familiar and predictable but it unfolds with a wit and beauty that command attention.

The brooding, oppressive story is unlikely to satisfy mainstream tastes, but with careful positioning it could attract the same niche of young urban arthouse audiences that supported similarly edgy British literary adaptations like Hallam Foe (2007) or Morvern Callar (2002).

Rising star Harry Treadaway gives his best performance to date as Nikko, a suicidal young man smitten by iconoclastic free spirit and animal rights activist Stevie (Emma Booth). Against the unusual world of obsessive birdwatchers, their relationship unfolds as a breathless see-sawing between passionate acts of reckless defiance and the troubling defensiveness of Stevie’s demand for personal space.

A self-destructive infatuation in the well-trodden tradition of Bonnie And Clyde, Badlands and countless others, Pelican Blood might feel overly familiar and predictable but it unfolds with a wit and beauty that command attention.

Darran Tiernan’s burnished cinematography adds a golden glow to images of misty rural wetlands and plaintive urban sunrises. Treadaway is in virtually every scene and carries the weight of the film lending a rock star charisma to the troubled and vulnerable Nikko. There is also a notable supporting performance from Ali Craig as Nikko’s acerbic friend and fellow ‘twitcher’ Bish.

Production company: Ecosse Films

UK Distributor: Icon Entertainment

International sales: Icon Entertainment International, www.iconmovies.net

Producers: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae, John McDonnell

Executive producers: Mark Woolley, Christopher Figg, Robert Whitehouse, Suzanne Alizart

Screenplay: Cris Cole, based on the novel by Cris Freddi

Cinematography: Darran Tiernan

Editor: Martin Brinkler

Production designer: Richard Bullock

Music: Niall Byrne

Main cast: Harry Treadaway, Emma Booth, Ali Craig, Arthur Darvill, Christopher Fulford