Southside Advertiser Edinburgh / Entertainment  & Arts Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019 Reviews Page 1 Uglydolls, Carmilla, Balance Not Symmetry












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Uglydolls, Carmilla, Balance Not Symmetry


The Mystery of Henri Pick, The Wind, We Have Always Lived in the Castle





Balance, Not Symmetry

Rating 15 -  Running Time  96mins -  Year -  2019 - Country UK - Language English

Part of the Galas Strand

Starring - Laura Harrier, Bria Vinaite, Lily Newmark, Scott Miller


“Balance, Not Symmetry” is described in the EIFF film brochure as “a beautiful cinematic tribute to art, music and Scotland (and Glasgow in particular)” and while some of this may be true, there is no escaping the fact that this is very much a “youth generation” film.  There is nothing at all wrong with that, but to get the best out of this film you need to probably be familiar with the city of Glasgow and the music scene there.  If, like our main characters Caitlin Walker (Laura Harrier) and Hannah (Bria Vinaite ) as final year art students you are an art student with a love of music, then there is another layer of identification for you. Both will already be known to many film goers for their  recent respective film roles; Laura Harrier in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and Bria Vinaite in “The Florida Project”.

Laura Harrier stars here as a Scottish-American art student who is studying at Glasgow School of Art (who could have foreseen events here?) and the unexpected death of her father throws her very comfortable world into emotional chaos.  Laura Harrier carries much of the performance weight and depth of this film with her role as Caitlin, but the relationship with her mother played so well by Kate Dickie is one that I wanted to explore further.  Money is obviously not an issue to Caitlin as the family home looks more to me like a modern art and design museum filled with some of the classic furniture and design of the 20th century.

Our main cast also features rising talents such as Freya Mavor, Martin Bell (who learns how not to impress on the first few dates with Caitlin), Lily Newmark, along with Tamsin Egerton and Shauna Macdonald.

There are odd moments here in this film though as crowded parties and clubs contrast sharply with an almost deserted Kelvingrove Art Gallery and deserted public parks.  At times too there is a feeling of trying to tick as many contemporary “PC” boxes here as possible.

What attracted me from the beginning to this film though was the music and involvement in it of Biffy Clyro and lead singer Simon Neil, who also wrote music for the film.  Here I think, Simon Neil leaves no one in any doubt of his abilities as a songwriter no matter what age they might be.

“Balance, Not Symmetry” is in part a “youth fantasy film”.  Every generation though needs its “own film” and there is much here to potentially make this one much loved with its target audience now and in the years ahead of them.  All of this youth culture though does at times give this film a surface gloss that stops us getting to some of the real emotional dynamics between mother and daughter in this film that could have taken it to many other places.  To be fair though, this would probably have taken up far too much time and drawn us away from the main focus of this story, that once in a lifetime feeling of not only being young, but knowing rightly or wrongly that you are going to be the one to conquer the world in your chosen field of endeavours.

Review by Tom King


Director Jamie Adams

Director of Photography Ryan Eddleston

Editor Adelina Bichis

Produced by Maggie Monteith, Jamie

Music: Biffy Clyro

Screenplay by Jamie Adams


Rating 15 -  Running Time  96mins -  Year -  2018 - Country UK - Language English

Part of the Best of British Strand

Starring - Hannah Rae, Devrim Lingnau, Jessica Raine, Tobias Menzies, Greg Wise, Lorna Gayle

“Carmilla”, inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu's Gothic novella of the same name, with screenplay and direction by Emily Harris, is one of those films that make reviewing the Edinburgh International Film Festival worthwhile.  A beautifully photographed and edited work that takes the viewer effortlessly into its world of often implied but rarely seen gothic horror.

All the elements to make a gothic horror story are here, a remote house, foreboding landscapes, a young girl approaching adulthood Lara (Hannah Rae), a strict governess with a hint of a shaded past Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine) and the arrival of an unexpected visitor Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau).

Lara (Hannah Rae) and Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine) seem perfectly cast in their respective roles here, and  there are some very disturbing undertones all throughout their relationship as Lara is subjected to the very strict religious observance of God, coupled with a fear of The Devil entering the house and her life at every moment of her waking day. That old familiar belief (still with us today all these hundreds of years later) of the left hand being the hand of the devil plays an important part of this story as Miss Fontaine takes measures to “train” Lara out of her “left-handed” by birth traits.

Everything in Lara’s world is thrown into confusion by the unexpected arrival of Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau).  New and strange feelings emerge within and the two young women become increasingly living in a private fantasy world of their own making.

Wisely, although period settings at Lara’s home indicate a time frame, we are never given one, nor an exact location for the remote house that Lara lives in, and that is what adds to much of the atmosphere here.  We do know from other elements introduced to the story that strange things are happening out in the surrounding countryside but they are again, wisely, never really defined, but only suggested at.  Tensions, fears and superstitions are obviously very high, and as always people will make what they believe of any situation they do not understand, and Lara and Carmilla become the focus of all of their superstitious fears.

This is a well-paced work of cinema and hauntingly beautiful music by Phillip Selway (perhaps best known to many people as a member of Radiohead) plays a large part of the overall atmosphere of this film.  When you have music to a gothic horror film of this quality, it all becomes one cohesive bond with the imagery of the film, and can any song be more appropriate here than “Ghosts”?

Review by Tom King


Director Emily Harris

Director of Photography Michael Wood

Editor Rebecca Lloyd

Produced by: Emily Precious, Lizzie Brown

Music: Phillip Selway

Screenplay by Emily Harris


Rating U -  Running Time  83 mins -  Year -  2019 - Country USA - Language English

Part of the Galas Strand

Starring - Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton

The much-beloved global plush toy phenomenon UglyDolls has arrived on the big screen, and behind the brightly coloured animation graphics there is a message for everyone from the very young to the very old. Here, in a hidden universe, dolls are created and the perfect one is chosen for a single special child in mind.  Not every doll is good enough to make it to this special world of love and affection though, and the not so perfect ones, the UglyDolls, are cast aside and thrown into “Uglyville”.

Here, in this world of the “unwanted” there is still in one doll, Moxy (voiced by Kelly Clarkson), the belief that there is a big world somewhere outside of Uglyville awaiting and somewhere that perfect child for here.  Beneath all of the animated gloss, the introduction to the story of elements such as “The Institute of Perfection” have overtones far beyond the fun visual elements of this film

The animation here is bright and colourful, but more importantly, our “UglyDolls” have no specific shape that defines any person or living creature as “ugly”.  All of this animation was given an extra visual sharpness here at The Festival Theatre today as it has one of the largest digital cinema screens in Scotland.

I went along to see this film with my young son, and the film was colourful, fun, silly and entertaining. It had a simple message that all ages could understand about self confidence and determination.

We both enjoyed the opening song in which we are introduced to Moxy and her friends. There were plenty of laughs along the way. Earl thought it was good and particularly enjoyed Jibberish Cat (Kelly Asbury) and would have liked to see more of it.  It mostly held my attention and I even laughed a couple of times mainly at the slap stick humour.  I found my mind wandering a bit by the second musical number but was brought back by the second half with a wee bit of emotion.

Overall it was entertaining family fun with levels of depth to its story that can be viewed from many different angles by children and adults, all brought to life by a talented cast behind the individual characters.

Review by Donald Campbell


Director Kelly Asbury

Editor: Julie Rogers, Nolan Southerland

Produced by: Jane Hartwell, Robert Rodriguez, Oren Aviv

Music: Christopher Lennertz

Screenplay by Alison Peck





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