Film Review: Shell (2012)

on Thursday, March 14, 2013
'Shell' (UK Release: 15 March '13) // Words: Saam Das

Born from a 2007 short, 'Shell' is the debut feature film from writer-director Scott Graham. An isolated drama set in the Scottish highlands, the film explores the relationship between a father (Joseph Mawle) and daughter (Chloe Pirrie), bound by their bleak yet magnificent setting.

The teenage Shell (played by the fast rising Pirrie, perhaps most famous as a lead in the recent 'Black Mirror' series on Channel 4) works with her introspective father Pete at a rarely visited petrol station - the two bound by their intimate, emotional relationship. With few visitors, their relationship becomes the dominant focus of the film - a subtle yet intense experience.

'Shell' was originally scheduled to debut at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2012 before being hastily withdrawn as it transpired that it was no longer eligible for an award - one that it may not have been nominated for anyway. A possibly regrettable move but one that saw the film later premiere at the San Sebastian film festival to a largely positive reception, followed similarly at the BFI London Film Festival.

I wasn't quite as sold as many, finding 'Shell' somewhat more emotionally hollow than otherwise intended. However, Graham and cinematographer Yoliswa Gärtig deserve plaudits for the strikingly cold world they managed to create, supported superbly by the two lead performances.


'Shell' is out today in UK cinemas, through Verve Pictures.

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