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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Albatross (2012)

"Oooh, that's the girl from Downton," came the exclamation from my better half on wandering past me when I was watching this. True enough, Albatross does indeed feature Jessica Brown Findlay, more famous for the part of feisty Lady Sybil in the insanely popular ITV period drama than any of her other acting work to date. Additionally, the film stars Felicity Jones, an old hand in feature standards by the ripe old age of twenty-seven, having starred in Chalet Girl and been featured in Cemetery Junction to name but two.



This is the story of a young writer, Emilia (Findlay) and her relationship with a family that own a guest house on the Isle Of Man where she starts work as a maid. She soon becomes friends with the eldest daughter of the family (Jones) who is about to leave for Oxford to study. She also gets right up the nose of her mother, played by Julia Ormond and right into the trousers of her father, Johnathan (Sebastian Koch), a once lauded novelist who has been stagnating for two decades since his last great work was published to critical acclaim.


Emilia has a famous ancestor, in the form of legendary writer, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and has dreams of being as great a writer as he was. When Johnathan offers her the opportunity to learn from him, most of the audience with a brain in their head can see where his true intentions lie and if we're honest, this seventeen-year-old is not the type of girl to refuse his advances, regardless of what they may be.


The acting by the whole cast is great and it is especially nice to see Julia Ormond back on the big screen. I didn't realise how much I had missed her until she appeared, a stressed-out actress in search of representation, stuck in a hole of a life, running a guest house and wondering what the hell happened to her to get her to this exact point. She is tired and angry, short-tempered and blunt. Ormond plays this woman who has just about had enough of what life has a habit of throwing at her with aplomb, and it is a shame we did not see more of her.


Findlay's Emilia is well considered also, at times playful, at others tragic, but always captivating when she is on screen. The girl about whom the title of this film hangs so heavily is carefully handled by Findlay here, and it would have been easy for her tip the balance in either direction and ruin the character altogether. Yet she finds a comfortable line between a sultry and confident Lolita, and a nervous, helpless and misunderstood soul with good heart.


Jones' character of Beth is probably the simplest of all. A young, naive girl about to take her life in a new exciting direction, her head turned by the arrival of this captivating whirling dervish in the form of Emilia, who hypnotises both her and her father. Jones has a habit of falling into these roles that explore an awakening or personal discovery of one type or another, usually related to coming-of-age, which is odd, given her own age.


The performances are delightful on their own, but too often they fail to gel with one another and their stories become too blindingly disparate, so much so that you could easily have made at least two movies that needn't have been connected at all.


With some beautiful camerawork and cinematography, this is lovely to look at when there is nothing going on as well. We are afforded some spectacular views of the Isle, and usually well-timed. The story is simple, the dialogue not so. The script is clever, witty and funny, though maybe not as much as it should have been. By the end, you are still in two minds about just what it was you have watched as it feels much more like drama than comedy, though as I say, it does have its small share of laughs.


Overall, very enjoyable and out on DVD if you fancy it. It's definitely worth a viewing if you're stuck for something to rent. Well written and continually entertaining with some good performances.

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