Three teenage brothers, gang-member Bobby, troubled mama's boy Alan and self-assured prankster Lex, reside in a downtrodden section of Glasgow, Scotland, circa 1968. But while Bobby and ...
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Three teenage brothers, gang-member Bobby, troubled mama's boy Alan and self-assured prankster Lex, reside in a downtrodden section of Glasgow, Scotland, circa 1968. But while Bobby and Alan are beginning to experience the power of raging hormones, the story focuses on Lex, who begins a downward spiral after he accidentally shoots the leader of Bobby's gang. Lex's cockiness and immaturity unfortunately prevent him from understanding the effect his subsequent crimes will have on both himself, and on those around him.Written by
Ary Luiz Dalazen Jr. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A gritty, realistically drawn out rights of passage film, this was an impressive return to form for writer/director MacKinnon after his brief Hollywood fling. Overall the film, although essentially a nostalgic look at a young Glasgow boy coming of age in 1968, manages to steer clear from over romanticising the past as so often happens with such an exercise. This is largely due to an impressive cast, realistic location filming, and a refreshingly simple (especially in light of recent Brit flicks) down to earth pop soundtrack. Its not too preoccupied with presenting a hip representation of 1960s culture which may have prevailed its realism.
Lex is the youngest of three brothers MacLean being brought up by a single mother in a grubby tenement flat. His brothers are greatly contrasting in character; Alan a sensitive, aspiring artist, and Bobby an illiterate and unpredictable gang member. It is the former that Lex looks up to rather than Bobby who he sees as a "moron". Much of the film's central concerns seem to lie in these two contrasting sides of Lex's up-bringing. He lives in a world where artistic expression, or any such kind of creativity, is stifled. This being graphically represented by the beating of a young artist at the hands of a local gang. We also learn of this character's father's fruitless attempts to produce grapes in the middle of Glasgow. The only escapism and means of capturing anything remotely extrisnic for the likes of Lex and Alan is through their art. Ultimately though it is intelligence which prevails when Malky's ignorant act leads directly to his destruction.
Early scenes serve to establish the family life of the MacLean's. Sometimes these seem rather idealistic, such as family gatherings and sing-songs. The singing seems to be a motif for happier times; it doesn't return until directly after Malky's death in a comical children's sing-a-long at a Saturday matinee. Although family life is not disregarded, never can adults successfully communicate with the youngsters. The attempts by an American uncle to have some influence over the boys is ineffectual, and the mother seems to have little control over them. Also there curiously seems to be no intervention by the police into the gang violence.
As Lex is the central protagonist we are often given his perspective of events. An earlier gang encounter at a fairground is received from his point of view, which is then followed by a man leading an elephant across a field. Such surreal imagery is almost a childlike representation of events. Shaky camera movements during his drunken stupor are further indication of the camera allowing us to identify ourselves with him.
On the whole the film is well-crafted. Some striking images such as the track of red blood across the ice rink after Bobby's is stabbed and great attention to detail are a credit to the director. As well as some clever aesthetic touches the film boasts to its credit some endearing performances by what is mainly a young cast, especially young Ian Robertson as Lex whom our affection for is essential to our enjoyment of the film. Despite the film's violent content we rarely lose sight of humour or hope.
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