Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Mister Foe

Mister Foe
Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Jamie Sives and Claire Forlani

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 5, 2008 Released by: Magnolia Pictures

This Scottish drama has a way to draw one into it in spite of its creepy, raw nature.

Starring Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, and Jamie Sives, Mister Foe (originally called "Hallam Foe" for its title character) might be a coming-of-age tale disguised as a thriller.

Bell's 17-year-old Hallam Foe will leave the Scottish highlands family residence because of the sudden loss of his mother. He believes his new stepmother (Claire Forlani), once an assistant to his father (Ciaran Hinds of Stop-Loss) was the cause of his grief, and after a lathering interlude with her has him on his way to Edinburgh.

Co-written by director David Mackensie (Young Adam), the story earns appeal as Hallam becomes a dishwasher in a hotel kitchen. In large part, because he's in close proximity to the establishment's human resources agent, Kate (Myles), who happens to closely resemble his late mother.

Hallam becomes a mister over the course of this more character-driven picture that has a fierce undercurrent to it. Bell doesn't intend to make him viewer-friendly as Hallam flirts with such disturbing behavior from a clandestine way of cornering people, even the hotel manager (Sives). Yet, the sensitivity and immaturity is there to see how he is motivated to act in a compulsive manner.

Bell arguably delivers his richest characterization since his early breakthrough sleeper Billy Elliot. Hallam can be sweet and droll, but also more than a little eerie, as there is much honesty through the internalization of this sometimes joyous person filled with much heartache. The attractive Myles (Art School Confidential) eschews the obvious turns for someone as fetching and noticing as Kate when it comes to the vulnerabilities and nakedness of a harrowing Hallam.

Mackenzie has a feel for the Greek (Oedipal) tragedy, even Shakespeare as he works diligently with his crew to evoke something florid when it comes to music, lensing, and editing. As in Young Adam there are dark insinuations fluttering along the way to perhaps make it all more off-putting than it really is. From the line readings to the underlying events, Mister Foe can be too prickly and uptight as it brings nuance to the uneasy connectivity of people.

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