fri 21/02/2020

DVD: Island | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Island

DVD: Island

Natalie Press, as raw as ever, plays a woman on a quest in the Hebrides

No woman is an island: Colin Morgan and Natalie PressTailor-Made Films

There’s something elemental in Elizabeth Mitchell and Brek Taylor’s Island – a small-scale British independent film that scores highly on performances and more than relishes the visuals of its setting.

The landscapes, shot mainly on the Isle of Mull, are glorious, and speak for the mood of the film’s heroine Nikki (Natalie Press): the emotional undercurrents of the script seem as tempestuous as local nature, especially the surrounding sea. The directors don’t hurry to bring a trace of explanation to their story (based on the novel by Jane Rogers), but it gradually becomes apparent that this will be a three-player drama, between Nikki and the members of the family with whom she comes to lodge, ostensibly by accident - a mother (Janet McTeer as Phyllis) and her son (Colin Morgan as Calum).

The performances are as rough as they come. Press conveys a kind of visceral uncertainty about her life and fate (skeletons in the cupboard aplenty) that’s communicated most notably in her nervous manner of speech. The actress has played some of the key roles in recent British independent film – from Pawel Pawlikowsky’s My Summer of Love to Andrea Arnold’s Red Road – and she’s playing here on very exposed nerves indeed. It’s a performance so raw as almost to seem autistic. I don't think I will be the only viewer who in some way recalls Emily Watson in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves.

The nature that surrounds her, which becomes alternatively threatening and comforting, is outstandingly caught by cinematographer Rain Li’s work - no surprise Li has worked with that other master of visual mood, Christopher Doyle - and in a score by Michael Price.

Extras includes a directors’ commentary, “making-of” episodes, stills, and work from the animation add-ons that give Island considerable extra character. It's a fine showing from its two debutant directors. I’m confident we’ll be hearing more of them in the future.

Watch the trailer for Island


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