British filmmakers have been ploughing a rich seam in the last 18 months. There have been some cracking low-budget indie flicks - Skeletons and Monsters to name just two. And directing duo Brek Taylor and Elizabeth Mitchell's debut, Island, is another to be added to that list.
OK there are one or two clunky moments but this is an otherwise beautifully shot and acted piece which is intriguing from the outset. Protagonist Nikki (Natalie Press) travels to a remote and bleak island, hell-bent on revenge on her mother Phyllis (Janet McTeer*) who abandoned her as a child. But her plans go awry when she realises she has a brother, Callum (Colin Morgan**) and her mission becomes more about wresting him from matriarchal control.
But weaving its way, like a cat around its owner's legs at meal times, are a series of delightful myths and legends which Nikki and Callum tell each other - almost recreating the childhood they never had together. It lends the story a hint of the fairytale but fairytale of the Grimm vein where there is hint of the grotesque and sinister. Something that is not that far from the truth as revealed in the films final scenes.
Definitely a palette cleanser after the dreadfulness of recent Hollywood fare I've enjoyed it packs a lot of visual and emotional punch. It gets 79% from me but as it has such a limited release at present doesn't yet feature on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic so you'll have to take my word for it.
* After the screening there was a Q&A with Brek and Elizabeth who said that Juliet Stevenson and Anne Marie Duff were originally lined up for the female leads. Can't quite see that working as well somehow despite them being such good actors.
** Doing a wonderful Scottish accent - he really is a master but would love to see him do something in his native Northern Irish at some point