If i were to rate the film Magpie, I could not conceive it getting less than 5/5 stars. A truly compelling masterpiece of melancholy.
The other evening I sat down with the intention to watch a film and, after a bit of browsing, I came across an absolute gem. Magpie, a raw and touching film drama by Nowhere Fast Production's Marc Price, is a film that will emotionally grip you within the first five minutes and not let go until the credits roll.
I admit, when I first pressed play, I was dubious. I half expected another bleak independent film with needlessly indulgent shots of people staring out of rainy windows etc. but after the first five minutes or so, I realised I was in for a treat. Perfectly paced, unpredictable and utterly compelling.
Marc Price's direction and cinematography takes what is, on its own, an absorbing and reverenced script and transforms it into a masterful work of cinematographic art. Every angle and shot feels like it has purpose and leads to smooth and seamless storytelling. The storyline itself is also of a masterful calibre, adding another string to Price's already many stringed bow. Price's script is a perpetually tense and melancholy dissection of grief and hopelessness with just the right amount of realness and unpredictability to leave an audience hooked without seeing through the narrative. Indeed, it is films like this that prove the need and importance of smaller budget, independent movie making that isn't betwixt the paws of Hollywood. When it comes to telling compelling, touching dramas none do it better than filmmakers of Price's calibre.
The performances by the lead actors were equally as stunning, under Price's direction. Notably, actor Daisy Aitkins portrays the pain of a distant mother's grief with masterful subtlety and just the right hint of delirium. Actors Craig Russell, Phil Deguara and Alastair Kirton also match Aitkins' sublime performance with raw, genuine emotion and a level of detail rarely seen in modern cinema. Each character felt as real as any person I know. I did not for one second doubt the motives or reasoning behind their actions such was the convincing nature of the actors' performances.
I also felt the music was perfectly weaved in and out of the film leaving perfect silences and juxtaposing that with a musically simplistic yet deeply powerful melancholy.
If I was to find any faults in this film I would have to dig into the nit-picking section of my brain and the comment would be contrived of nothing but personal preference so here is a movie review of a rare kind. Rare in that I can draw no real criticism. In fact, some of my nit-picky criticisms are a common and almost expected feature of many independent films. For example, the occasional slow focus pull or small continuity error can often make a film more charming in the same way that some things look better unpolished.
The only slight criticism I guess I could draw from watching this film is that it contains very little in the way of hope. Often, in bleak films, it is the glimmers of hope or the odd moments of relief that keep the audience from drowning in grief and there is very little of that in this wonderfully austere drama. Having said that, the ending of this film is one of such satisfying beauty that all lack of emotional sunshine is almost entirely forgiven.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed this little gem of a film far more than I expected too and have come away with my faith restored that beauty and artistry have not been completely lost in modern filmmaking. This piece was honestly a breath of fresh air and a work utter genius, even if it is remorselessly bleak.