Death In A Nut

Death In A Nut


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Death appears, in his blue cloak, and stands on the beach. He is calling, calling for Jeannie. Deep, sonorous is the voice of Death, singing there on the shores of the loch. Calm are the waters, calm is her expression, but Jack will not be standing by while there's strength in his possession.

With an economical beauty, Jack saves his mother from Death. There's something in the blend of Tom Chick's direction and Jessica Ashman's animation that recalls the BBC's Narnia, a kind of storybook verite - it is right enough, and evident, and clearly what's intended. Throughout, in fact, Death In A Nut shows talent to be commended.

Based on the version of the story in Penguin's 1987 collection Thorn In The King's Foot, this is artfully constructed. Jack's actions have consequences, and the slow ringing of a distant bell reminds us of them constantly.

As Jack, James Anthony Pearson manages a subdued and still performance, all bottled grief and rage. Kathryn Howden as Jeannie, his mother, manages a beatific poise throughout. Anne Lacey as a briefly passing traveller is blunt and demonstrative, but for all that still a piece with the still and spare performances throughout.

The music, composed by Neil Thomas Smith, performed along with Catriona Price is neatly used, reminding us this is a story but grounding it inside traditions.

It's hard to attain "just right", the certainty that nothing else is needed and nothing need be taken away. Possessed of a compelling, folkloric intensity, Tom Chick's film is a morbid gem.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2012
Share this with others on...
Jack battles to stop death from stealing his mother.

Director: Tom P Chick

Writer: Tom P Chick

Starring: James Anthony Pearson, Tam Dean Burn, Holly Gilchrist, Holly Howden Gilchrist, Kathryn Howden, Anne Lacey

Year: 2012

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2012
Glasgow 2013

Search database:

If you like this, try:

The Fisherman’s Daughter