Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is a charming little two-hander, one of those nice little father-son dynamic pieces. In Eddie and Barrie we've got two individuals who manage to be both obviously related and typically antithetical. Eddie drives, an independent owner-operator in the haulage industry. El-Hat transport company, western font and all, cowboys of the open road. Barrie does the admin. Once a happier family, the relative quality of their packed lunches a note-perfect indicator of the consequences of divorce.

John Ashton compels at the geezering, natural behind the wheel of his rig and grumbling and grousing and grimacing as the day goes ever less well. Character demonstrated in adversity, ever more so as problems mount up. Ben Smith manages a natural chemistry with Ashton, the close confines office and cab and family heightening the pressure. They talk of granddad, a driver too, for a dairy. "he said he'd throttle the man who invented Tetra-Paks and poly bottles", and when they say "he would have, too" we believe them. History implied, potential eroded.

There are generation gaps, mismatches of expectation - "while there's road... there's always a future" and conversations about dubstep and Bananarama. Then there's Geronimo - a ring bearing the face of the Indian chief, at one point a prized link between the two. Now, well, an embarassing relic, of a lost past and its misunderstandings.

Dean Stalham's script is nicely paced, touching, and Nele Hecht's direction catches plenty of nuance in the cast's performances. There's something striking, telling, in how rarely the two are caught in the same shot, despite their proximity, the small spaces in which the action takes place. Heading in the same direction, but on different journeys.

As part of Channel 4's Coming Up scheme it's meant to serve as a showcase for new writing and directorial talent, and it certainly manages it. The overall technical quality is excellent, Neil Parry's score in particular with long tones and guitars against the big blue sky and the open road. The film manages to highlight the weird angular majesty of the UK's motorway corridors, the messy realities of low-level trading between the industrial estates on the edge of towns, and the spaces that exist within families.

Geronimo depicts a frontier, a lawlessness, headlong rushes into free-fall. There's something that approximates a code of honour, where the lines blur into one another. "It made you brave", says Eddie, of the ring he gave his son. Geronimo has that power.

Reviewed on: 13 Jul 2011
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A father and son working in the haulage industry are linked by an awkward sentimental attachment to a ring.

Director: Nele Hecht

Writer: Dean Stalham

Starring: John Ashton, Tanya Franks, Colin Mace, Lee Ross, Ben Smith

Year: 2011

Runtime: 23 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2011

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