A dizzying and bold arthouse trip.
The Edinburgh Film Festival has been running since 1947. That makes it the longest running film festival in the world, so as you can imagine it has been home to a massive smorgasbord of movies. Many are soon forgotten, but this year’s Seat in Shadow deserves our attention.
When Ben (Jonathan Leslie) begins to spiral into a deep depression as a result of boyfriend issues, his grandmother sends him to unconventional therapist Albert (David Sillars). Their subsequent sessions together become a learning experience for both of them, as they become closer than perhaps expected.
We start off with an introduction to Albert, watching a YouTube video on how to make organic, homemade toothpaste. For a character who clearly embraces the eccentric and ignores the norm, this feels oddly relatable to the YouTube nation of today. David Sillars’ performance is the highlight of the film, deep-routed and natural with a scene-stealing quality.
Less can be said for Jonathan Leslie, who although has moments of greatness, generally comes across as a sulky, unappealing teenager. He’s at his best when paired with Sillars, but on his own many of his lines will make you giggle – which I’m fairly certain isn’t the intended response.
Written by David Sillars and Henry Coombes, it’s a script that delves deep into the characters’ minds. Intimate, intense therapy sessions keep the film interesting before it turns a bit too outlandish for its own good. It’s a bizarre blend of scenes which feel relaxed but nevertheless contain a sense of anxiousness, with each development in the plot presented subtly rather than abruptly.
However, my attention span started to sway as the film approached it’s climax. Following a Filth-like dream sequence, Sillars and Coombes have reached for a sentimental, emotionally resonant conclusion, which albeit is moderately effective, evoked a raised, confused eyebrow rather than a tear.
Still, the direction, also from Henry Coombes, is outstanding. At it’s core Seat in Shadow is a gay psychodrama, which could have been relentlessly dull. But Coombes uses the surroundings on offer to add impact to every scene; whether it’s in Albert’s unique flat, out on the gritty streets of Glasgow or in a nightclub – it’s all exquisitely shot.
To sum it up…
There will be many who won’t appreciate Seat in Shadow. Gay psychodrama is indeed a niche genre, but with Sillars’ fantastic performance and Coombes sublime direction, it’s a trip I certainly won’t forget.
Seat in Shadow doesn’t have a mainstream theatrical release, but we will update you if anything comes up. Do you like the sound of Seat in Shadow? Let us know what you think in the comments, tweet us or check out our Facebook page!
Author: Cameron Frew