Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Ferguson's cinematic sense trusts in audiences - that they will see what isn't there and react all the more strongly."

My favourite bit of Flamingo is a plain red square. That plain red square is an indicator of awareness of form, and of control, and of style and verve and vigour. That plain red square caused two to faint and one to have a panic attack. That plain red square belongs on Bryan M Ferguson's business card, not least because it's more compact than Writer/Director/Producer/Editor/Production Designer/etcetera. That plain red square is at the heart of Flamingo because of what is happening behind it.

What is happening behind it is imagination.

Copy picture

In the details, from opening with a quote from Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition, to the sticky note in the laundrette that says "stop encouraging obscene phone calls", to the French on the bathroom wall that mentions pleasure and pain, the fabric of jackets, the arrangement of belts, to the looks and glances and stances and physicality of its cast. Stascia Bantouvakis as Elina is graceful and fragile in equal measure, and her caller, the lumberjack, is Kristopher Curran, brooding, wounded, and perhaps even more so.

Eventually it becomes clear that there is a plan. Not a good one, not a wise one. The number plate of the car ends X-Ray, Delta, Charlie. XDC. One change away from something close to happiness. A swap, a solution - ecstasy. This is dysmorphia, dysfunction, mental, physical, sexual, powerful. With electric blue intertitles, chapters delineated by things like letters from the further reaches of the text message character set, clear colour, clear sound, clear intent. The bird of the title stands upon one leg. That goal is shared.


John Bonnar contributes music, Rachel Gallagher make up effects and gore, but aside from the cast this is Ferguson's film. Made as part the prize for his Skinny award-winning Caustic Gulp, Flamingo was given an honorable mention by the Scottish Award Jury for its "clear cinematic vision and style". It shares a hypercolour surreality with Caustic Gulp, an unflinching cocktail of pastel neons and grime, an Eighties Glamour marker set with the addition of the heavy hue of haemoglobin, claret clarity, carmine kroovy, an architecture of implicature of violence emotional and physical. All the stronger because Ferguson's cinematic sense trusts in audiences - that they will see what isn't there and react all the more strongly. Like a magician, he lays out the cards - desperate anonymous conversations, previous attempts, the cheery placard in the DIY superstore that offers to help choose the right saw. He hides the centre of the frame with that red square and then cinema does its trick. The mind is faster than the eye. It reacts more strongly too.

In a Q&A at the festival Bryan was asked about the fainting, about the panic attack. Though he's admittedly not a fan of public speaking, he did say that he wasn't sorry. He shouldn't be. This is a film that is designed to elicit a response, and succeeds - and you should see it.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2016
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An aspiring dancer develops an odd relationship with an obscene phone caller. Together they discover an impassioned interest in self-amputation.

Director: Bryan M Ferguson

Writer: Bryan M Ferguson

Starring: Katie Armstrong, Stascia Bantouvakis, Kristopher Curran, Joanne Pirrie

Year: 2016

Runtime: 30 minutes

Country: UK


GSFF 2016

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