From the media polymath Dave McKean (filmmaker, author, comic book artist, illustrator and photographer) comes a haunting, yet playful, dissection of grief, memories and secrets.
Grant (Ben Daniels) and Christine (Dervla Kirwan) are a married couple trying to get over the recent death of their newborn baby. In order to reengage with their lives, they drive to the middle of nowhere to meet up with Grant’s old friend Dean (Michael Maloney) and his new girlfriend Freya (Stephanie Leonidas) in their new seaside cottage.
Grant has a drinking problem, Christine is deeply despondent, Dean is an artist and a perfectionist with writer’s block and Freya is concerned about the age difference bet her and her boyfriend. Each of these anxieties and tensions collide over the space of a boozy weekend amongst the old friends, leading to a one of them trying to escape back into nature...
The script is intelligent and articulate with long passages discussing the discrepancies between fantasy and reality, with Dean acting as the poetic voice of theory and Grant representing the colder cynicism of reality. Freya at one point similarly uses her interest in the Tango to explain the balance between fantasy and reality, whilst Christine has a sober sadness that is rooted in real life.
The central theme of the film is the complexity of creation, either through artistic expression or to the more profound reality of having children. Each of the characters have been intensely affected by children and childbirth, and each has a sadness that has come through complicated aspirations of parenthood. McKean has spoken about the tragic inspiration for the film (friends of his lost their baby just as he himself was celebrating the arrival of one), yet it is not just a miserable reflection on grief.
The action is filmed in a series of close-ups with multiple cameras that capture intense reactions of characters and allows them to act out whole scenes instead of fragments. This gives a real power and realism to a lot of the dialogue, yet the film also has a surreal atmosphere to reflect the private emotions and regrets of the characters.
Overlaid on top of the film are segments of Dave McKean’s beautiful animation. From line-pencil rotoscoping to full screen computer-generated images of birds and monsters, McKean has created a hallucinatory atmosphere to colour an already beautiful collection of locations and situations. One scene in particular where Christine attempts to enter her own sexual fantasy is incredibly beautiful…
Along with the gorgeous visuals, the entire film is given a minimal Spanish-guitar and piano soundtrack to pull it all together and merge the dreamlike scenes together. This floats in and out just like the animation does and gives the film a sophisticated texture that is a joy to experience.