Known on IMDb, for the time being, as Rounding Up Donkeys.
Playing out as a slightly alternative life path for the characters who featured in Red Road, this movie has some moments of quality and raw emotion that may bring that film to mind but can easily be viewed as a very separate movie on it’s own.
The plot focuses on old Alfie (James Cosmo), a man who has had to be taken into hospital and has been given quite a scare. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Jackie (Kate Dickie), enjoy some time with his granddaughter and put as much right as he can. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to stop doing wrong and that includes the way he treats his hapless best friend (played by Brian Pettifer) and how he deals with a new, late revelation in his life that will once again affect those around him that he loves (despite his selfishness). Stevie (Martin Compston) is an ex-con dragged into Alfie’s scheming while he tries to make things up to his cancer-stricken mother.
Doesn’t sound like a bundle of laughs, does it? Well, Donkeys deftly mixes the comedy and the drama into a perfect blend of small-scale movie magic. The comedy may be pitch black at times (e.g. a suicide attempt not going right that brings to mind Lone Scherfig’s Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself) but it’s still pretty bloody funny. The dialogue exchanges between Alfie and his mate are almost all priceless and the acting throughout is flawless.
Director Morag McKinnon does a fine job, working from Colin McLaren’s script based on the characters created by Scherfig, and while the movie is little more than a character piece you have to give credit where credit is due; it’s such a great character piece, allowing the actors to have so much fun and do their job so brilliantly, that you never mind how ultimately inconsequential everything is.
It’s one of those movies that doesn’t grab you by the scruff or the neck or scream it’s talent at you but, instead, sneaks up on you and leaves you sitting there as the end credits roll realising that you’ve just watched something quite brilliant.
DIRECTOR: MORAG McKINNON
STARS: JAMES COSMO, KATE DICKIE, MARTIN COMPSTON, BRIAN PETTIFER
RUNTIME: APPROX 85 MINS
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