2002 Running time: 109 Certificate: 15 Rating: 4

Synopsis

Harbour (Adrian Rawlins), as his name might suggest, is an accommodating sort of chap, a human haven for his suicidal sibling Wilbur. After inheriting his father's Scottish bookshop, he also becomes a place of safety for single mother Alice (Shirley Henderson) and her daughter. An Education director Lone Scherfig's first English language film is a touching but bleak story of two Glaswegian brothers' love for the same woman.

Director

  • Lone Scherfig

Cast

  • Shirley Henderson

  • Adrian Rawlins

  • Lisa McKinlay

  • Jamie Sives

Review

Infidelity. Terminal cancer. Suicidal cravings. Rain. Lots of it. Not quite the subject matter that you'd expect to amuse and spread feelings of warmth.

Yet Danish director Lone Scherfig has fashioned a delight out of despair, steering a sure course through the cruel vagaries of life.

Harbour (Rawlins), as his name might suggest, is an accommodating sort of chap, a human haven for his suicidal sibling Wilbur.

After inheriting his father's Scottish bookshop, he also becomes a place of safety for single mother Alice (Henderson) and her daughter Mary (Lisa McKinlay).

However, this state of affairs propels Wilbur even closer to the edge as he's fallen in love with Alice himself and can't bear to see her with his brother.

What might seem to have all the makings of a sordid betrayal actually becomes a display of selfless decency when Harbour discovers he's got cancer.

Scherfig sweetens this bitter pill with irresistible humour - asked what a near-death experience was like, Wilbur replies: "Just blackness and utter silence. It was like being in Wales".

There's also a drily funny sub-plot involving a bourbon-swigging, chain-smoking Scandinavian psychiatrist who runs Wilbur's therapy circle.

It's where Wilbur hooks up with a therapist (Julia Davis) with a variety of Rod Stewart hairdos who warns fellow diners that "I only eat unpolished rice."

Henderson, who is rapidly becoming Scotland's answer to Holly Hunter, again displays a beautifully underplayed skill at getting under the skin of off-kilter characters.

Subtly resonant and quietly unassuming, this is weirdly warped in the most poignant way.

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