Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"A crisp little picture of adolescence."

This is an uncomfortable film, hot sun on an itchy neck, straw caught in a shoe. It has an ambiguous ending, haunting, even. It is a crisp little picture of adolescence, abandonment, the gap between peer pressure and personal priorities.

Three boys are playing in a field, atop and then within a great structure, built of the titular bales. A monolith of straw, it squats atop a shallow hill, a yellow giant against the sky. They root around within the structure, move bales to create wells within which to play, hiding-places, a fort, a secret space. One of the three has his brother's cigarettes, and when the brother arrives, his own friends in tow, to collect them, things start to fall apart.

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The cast are relatively inexperienced - three newcomers, the older four with the usual mix of appearances on Casualty, The Bill or Doctors. They're good though, convincingly petty, scared, angry as the situation changes. It's written and directed by Alastair Mackay, who has a good ear for dialogue but a better eye for the countryside. This is empty agricultural England, a cultural desert. Indeed, it's not just the landscape that it shares with fellow EIFF short Harvest; Michael Socha is in both.

The titular bale is not just the building material, but to run away - there's plenty of it here: escapes from a mysterious car, from the tedium of summer, from responsibilities of one kind or another. Then 'bail', of course, the spectre of criminality, culpability. This is a nice little film, refreshing if not stunningly original.

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2009
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On a long summer’s day in rural England, two groups of teenagers find a remote hide away where fun and games soon lose their innocence.

Director: Alastair Mackay

Writer: Alastair Mackay

Starring: Bradley Badder, Millen Gee, Ashley Vere, Michael Socha, Perry Fitzpatrick, Finn Atkins, Chanel Cresswell, Alan Ouwin

Year: 2009

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2009

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