Dir: Karl Golden. UK. 2009. 99mins
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