This very dark twisted comedy features extremely strong performances by its three main protagonists Liam, Owen and Kristen-Christian Cooke, Harry McEntire and Madeleine Clarke respectively- to create an impressive work which tackles taboo subjects with humour and pathos. It details the desperation of the two teenage twins-Owen and Kristen- in their quest to escape the drudgery of an existence in a housing estate and acting as carers for their disabled mother. The arrival of the handsome and charismatic Liam, who resides somewhere in the region of sleazeball, awakens dreams of escape initially in Kristen but it is Owen who is the actual recipient of his attentions. However things are more complex than they appear as his entry into their lives immediately signals something more sinister than the flash suits, expensive car and smooth chat. He is essentially a pressure cooker of seething intent just waiting to explode and events do reach a dramatic and fraught conclusion which few could predict.

Bored with their dead end existence Owen and Kristen have few chances to create relationships outside of each other so when Liam shows an interest in them Kristen instantly leaps at the chance to acquaint herself further. However he asks Owen out for a drink and during the course of the evening takes him back to his flat and seduces him into carrying out his own personal fantasy. The initial signals are that Liam is gay but unable to admit this-even to himself-  he asks Owen to take on a role which he believes allows him to indulge his sexual preferences in public without anyone being aware of his proclivities. Or so he thinks.Perhaps the most telling scene regarding Liam’s psyche is when he accepts a chocolate and gazes at the wrapper and announces he is always seduced by the packaging and this is in line with the image he tries to create around himself.  Even going as far as introducing Owen to his parents  who are both aware of the true scenario being played out in front of them and this precipitates a crisis of epic proportions culminating in a climactic breakdown scene in a bridal shop where his deluded fantasies have somehow led him.

Unconditional is a film which manages to grip its viewers throughout. As said before the three central performances are excellent and director Bryn Higgins coaxes the best out of his actors as well as ensuring the plot is alternately disturbing but  humorous. It is an interesting comment on love as control with the manipulator able to offer an escape from a prison like existence but merely offering a prison of a different kind. A feeling that all this is going to end very badly pervades throughout and the tension in the confrontational scenes is palpable. Things spiral out of control very quickly but at the films denouement Owen seems to have used his experiences to reach a point where he can now take control of his life so the horrors he endures are not totally in vain.

Unconditional is showing at Cineworld on Mon 25th and Wednesday 27th June at 6.30pm.

What Is This Film Called Love?


Director Mark Cousins’ travelogue cum road trip takes in a three day sojourn in Mexico City where nothing has been planned beforehand. Drawing on an imaginary companion-Russian director Sergio Eisenstein- to accompany him  narrate his journey to as he weaves his singular way through this sprawling city, incorporating the contemporary alongside the historical, it becomes a rhythmic paean to Cousins’ own understanding of himself.

Shot as a collection of visual interludes Cousins Tramps around the city articulating his thoughts and observations to a hand held photograph of Eisenstein creating a collage with expertly selected aural accompaniment-P.J. Harvey and the Vertigo score are most notable although a woozily dreamy saxophone led piece worthy of a David Lynch movie also stands out- capturing the shifting moods and scenery. It is an exercise in simplicity and concludes with a return to Edinburgh in the grips of winter-from the heavy snowfall it looks like the big freeze of 2011- as a stark contrast.

Although What is this Film Called Love is enjoyable enough I feel it will appeal more to film makers and those in the industry than to the public at large. This is not to decry it however but it does possess limited appeal on its own merits.

What is this Film Called Love is showing at Filmhouse 1 at 6.30pm on Tuesday 26th June and Cineworld on Saturday 30th June at 7.45pm

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