Eye For Film >> Movies >> Labour (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
Henry is packing up a room while others are preparing for a birthday. It's Henry's. A celebration is in the offing in the care home. He's staff, not a resident, but Michael Socha's face says a lot; he's getting older, getting worried.
Written by Kenneth Macleod, directed by Michael Keillor, this is a single character's domestic drama, verging on the fantastic but with a solid grounding in the real, the quotidian, the grim march of existence.
There is a wall of memento mori, a woodland encounter that's haunting, possibly in a real sense. Henry sees one of his residents again, having packed up his room. A glimpse through the window of a bus, a difficult location to work in but one it shares with EIFF stablemates Missing and Alice. A figure walking into the woods, to a caravan, and some advice: "before you fold the paper, consider what you want it to be."
It's not a perfect film, there's at least one mistake that casts a doubt on another moment - a microphone in one shot causes us to question the figure seen in the woods - given everything else that goes on in that caravan camp, it's possible to read it either way. One hopes that the apparition was intentional as it adds depth to proceedings, but that may be being charitable. Keillor's somewhat of a veteran, with at least one other short and a fair few television episodes, and on this evidence he should be getting more film work. The revelation of the meanings hidden in the title is striking, and while titles are one of those messy things the sophistication it reveals can be attributed to Macleod's script.
Socha is excellent as always, but Alex Howson as the reappearing resident compels. Lauren Lamarr as the girl he is avoiding is good too. Excellent set dressing, in particular Henry's miserable garret with its wet shirts and cut power suggest production designer Martin McNee's talent, as does the woodland camp that might be heaven or the edge of death. Kel McKeown's score never overwhelms, supporting instead a strong central performance from Socha. No matter how good the actor, of course, he's dependent on those he is working with, and here all involved pull together to produce a work that's affecting, well-crafted, and probably a labour of love.Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2010