Movie Review by Vickie Jones
Starring: Christine Tremarco, Stuart Sinclair- Blyth, Sheila Hancock
Director: Phil Davis
Life is not always a bed of roses; sometimes it is cruel, upsetting and downright unfair. Many films nowadays gloss over this harsh reality but not HOLD BACK THE NIGHT, written by Steve Chambers. He has taken on board the controversial topic of incest and deals with it in a sympathetic but gritty way.
The plot takes on twists and turns as we see an unlikely trio inextricably linked through a series of unfortunate events. Young teenage runaway Charleen (Christine Tremarco) teams up with eco warrior Declan (played by newcomer Stuart Sinclair Blyth) after their paths cross in a pub. The mischievous pair soon ends up in trouble and finds themselves on the run from the police.
But help is at hand in the unlikely form of a stiff upper lip elderly lady Vera (Sheila Hancock), who helps them getaway in her camper van. From this moment on the three form a bizarre, but mutually beneficial, relationship. Vera, an ex-army English officer, helps the two youngsters both come to terms with their sad past and brings some hope into their lives with a few wise words.
Charleen believes she is cursed with bad luck since being abused as a child. She plays a prickly character, which at times is difficult to empathise with, and is one tough cookie which Declan and Vera manage to get through to. Tremarco puts in a moving performance as a young aggressive, but vulnerable, victim who has suffered enough to last her a lifetime. This was no doubt a tough role to play but she handled it well.
This is a slow-paced film that suits the sombre mood and at times is disturbing to watch. HOLD BACK THE NIGHT has all the grittiness of QUADROPHENIA, in which director Phil Davis starred, as well as the drug undertones of TRAINSPOTTING. This is Davis’ second film, following on the heels of ID. Davis successfully juxtaposes the beauty of the Scottish Highlands with the harsh realities of Charleen’s unhappy childhood. As they travel deeper into the countryside Charleen confronts the demons of her past. However, we never get to see much beyond the surface of Charleen?s deep-seated problems and this lets the film down.
However, with relatively unknown actors Davis manages to tackle a difficult topic. Like many actors he has turned his hand to directing and has made a success of it ? but he certainly didn?t take the easy option.
This is not so much a feel-good movie but a soul-searching journey. Charleen learns that you can run away from home but you cannot run away from your problems. At the end of the day you have to face reality ? however difficult. The film?s accolade of the Public Prize award, won at this year?s Cannes Film Festival, is well deserved.