Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008: Faintheart and goodbyes

Danny finishes up his coverage of the 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival with Faintheart...

Danny in Edinburgh

So, that’s it over and done with. No, not the European Championships (give it up for Spain, mind), but the 62nd Edinburgh International Film Festival. Last night I caught the closing film of the festival, Faintheart, after a mad rush that took me from my work in Glasgow to the Cineworld in Edinburgh. Dammit, I ran. Fast.

And it was for a good reason – Faintheart, which was having two world premieres at the same time in two separate screening rooms at the cinema (I guess that’s possible), was a pretty fine way to end the festival. The film, the feature debut by director Vito Rocco, follows overgrown manchild Richard (Eddie Marsan) as he tries to get back with his separated wife Cath (Spaced’s Jessica Hynes, forever the British geek ideal) while battling… as a Viking. Richard can’t quite separate between when to be a husband/father and when to be everybody’s mate, taking part in recreational Viking battles, slacking at a B Q-like job and generally dressing like an roadie for Tank all the time. The film kicks off with the humiliating shot of Richard showing up, late, in full Viking gear, for… his father-in-law’s funeral. “I’ll be earlier the next time,” he says as way of apology and even though you want to give him a clip around the ears, you already love Richard a bit.

You love his friends too, especially Ewan Bremner’s Julian, who works at Not-Forbidden-Planet and still lives at home with his mum, depressed that he has never had a girlfriend. (“Aw, love, any girl would be lucky to have you!” she says to him through wafer-thin walls in response to a private moan.) You also have a soft spot for Richard’s quiet son Martin (Joseph Hamilton), who only wants to look cool for the am-dram girl in her class despite his overbearing dad. And needless to say, these manchildren (well, in Martin’s case, children) learn how to grow up and bag girls without completely sacrificing who they really are. That’s as much as there is of a plot – to be honest, there’s about six or seven plotlines running along at the same time, so a solid singular narrative is pushed to the side for the feeling of a series of moments unfolding. Which is okay, actually – it gives Faintheart a great charm and allows its honest, heartfelt moments to shine through. By the time the finale rolls about and ten million things happen in five minutes, you’re glad that Rocco and writer David Lemon took the bitty route. Faintheart comes out on the 26th September, so make sure to check it out, especially if you want to see flirting revolving almost entirely around Star Trek (“You mean that you have the Borg Cube?”).

One gripe though – there’s a scene with a death metal band playing an old ‘80s song even though the song they’re adlibbing to is obviously using a style of stop-start playing punctuated by double-bass-drumming attributed to more recent metalcore bands. Don’t call me totally on it, I’m not a media theorist, but keep that in mind. Get it right, Rocco!

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Funny thing – at last year’s EIFF, there was a tent just down the road from the Filmhouse with Myspace Mash-Up written on the side, where me and Carl ended up auditioning for the film that turned out to be Faintheart. It didn’t lead anywhere, even though Carl had an absolutely amazing moment of, if I remember properly, ad-libbing about sculpting scented candles. The rest of the press is going to make a big deal about Myspace helping to fund the film and to push forward a nationwide audition process – matter of fact, much of the supporting cast were found via this process, as well as most of the music – but right now, I’m just annoyed that I didn’t get into the cast.

On Friday, I had to head back to Glasgow for work, but before I left was able to catch a rare showing of François Truffaut’s revenge film The Bride Wore Black as part of the Jeanne Moreau retrospective. It’s a good film, in which Moreau plays a wronged woman finding the killers of her husband and exacting revenge upon them, and is nowhere near the failure that Truffaut himself considered it. Plus, as a massive fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, it was fun catching the similarities between the two films. No kung-fu, women wearing eyepatches or David Carradine, but there’s a death list, weddings and, obviously, a super stylish protagonist completely committed to her mission of vengeance. Festival Director Hannah McGill absolutely ripped into Tarantino during her introduction of the film, calling him “a chancer” and belittling his claim that he’d never seen Truffaut’s film, after he said in an interview that he was “a Godard man, not a Truffaut man”. McGill’s response? “That’s as if to say that you’re, y’know, one or the other…” Ouch. (I’m more of a Resnais man if you ask me.)

Yesterday was the Best of the Fest, but due to waking up absolutely shattered and having already said goodbye to the festival, I spent most of it going to the Mosque Garden (super awesome curry establishment that, no kidding, runs out of the kitchen of a local mosque), feeling ill and trying to put my post-EIFF feelings into words. Oh, and I didn’t get invited/get tickets/wasn’t famous enough to be allowed to go to the closing night party nor to the award ceremony. But I can tell you who won (via the power of the internet!) – Shane Meadows’ follow-up to This Is England, Somers Town, won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film. I, er, missed that, so no comment. Zombie Carlyle won the PPG Award For Best Performance in a British Feature Film for Summer, which I didn’t catch either. Oops. Same goes for Man On Wire, which won the Audience Award and received a standing ovation on Thursday night (the entire audience, not a one-man standing ovation like the one I gave for Death Proof last year), though it wasn’t from lack of trying – I wasn’t able to make any, I repeat, any of the showings it had in the festival. So, long story short, I didn’t see any of the winners and I didn’t see Sir Sean. Gutted.

Well, that’s the festival done for the year. I’ll tell you a little anecdote – after Saturday night’s showing of Faintheart, I decided to head to the Filmhouse for a little drink of Coke Zero in the hope that a bunch of familiar journalists and filmmakers would be about. Sadly, nobody I knew was there, so I sat and had a drink thinking about the festival experience I had this year with my iPod on – then, all of a sudden, “I Wonder” by Kanye West came on and my heart just swelled. I figure you get used to this whole film festival thing after a while as a journalist, but I’m starting out in reporting for these sort of things, and this EIFF was really my first real experience at being in a bustling creative environment where so many people were so obviously passionate about what they were doing. Like everyone I talked to on Thursday night, I know I’m going to miss this festival a lot. It’s been great. (Plus, I’ve walked away with a wee crush on Hannah McGill, but don’t tell anybody…)

Until next year, it’s been a great EIFF. Keep an eye out for more reviews from Carl soon enough, but from us two, thanks for reading our informative rants on buying 32-bit consoles, lack of sleep and vaguely stalking Damon Wise. It’s been tiring, but pretty frakking good. Now, let’s get me out of uni for a fortnight so I can go to the London Film Fest – I’ll be putting up a Paypal account pronto…