Nobody Has To Know


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Nobody Has To Know
"Lanners has a surprising amount of unexpected turns of events up his sleeve considering the remote setting, although none of them feel unbelievable." | Photo: Versus Production

You can almost smell the tea and toast of a Saturday afternoon kick-back with the television as you watch Bouli Lanners island tale of tentative romance. Gentle enough for even the most fragile of constitutions, the writer/director/star puts the wild and windswept backdrop of the Isle of Lewis to good use in his first English language feature, without it feeling like an advert for the tourist board.

Lanners plays Phil, sort for Philippe, an incomer who spends his days working for the farm run by gruff Angus (Julian Glover), alongside the older man's son Peter (Cal MacAninch) grandson Brian (Andrew Still). Also living at the farm is lonely middle-aged singleton Millie (Michelle Fairley), who has picked up the local nickname "ice cream" on account.

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When Phil has a stroke that makes him lose his memory, Millie makes a decision that surprises even her. The film hinges on the late-romance warmth that is generated between the two of them, and Lanners has a surprising amount of unexpected turns of events up his sleeve considering the remote setting, although none of them feel unbelievable. Fairley - perhaps best known to most audiences as Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones - delicately brings Millie to life. She might be shy but Fairley also imbues her with a strong sense of capability. Fairley also uses a change in physical attitude to reflect in Millie’s emotional state, keeping her buttoned up until choosing the perfect moment to let the relaxation of her features or a casual smile help the years and fears fall away from her.

Lanners is an enjoyably bear-like presence by comparison so that the timid but determined chemistry that develops between Phil and Millie is believable and compelling. The heat between the two of them is so good, in fact, that the surrounding drama feels lukewarm by comparison. A subplot involving the unexpected presence of a delightful dalmatian named Nigel in Phil’s life, does offer a nice bit of humour. However, Brian’s unexpected formation of an attachment to the dog and what happens subsequently feel there to smooth the plot along and fill out the running time rather than stemming from any genuine sense of character. This lack of depth applies to all of the subsidiary characters, who through no fault of the actors, feel more like set dressing than living, breathing inhabitants of the same place. Like Phil, this romantic drama may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s fiercely heartfelt.

Reviewed on: 03 Nov 2023
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After a man loses his memory after a stroke, he embarks on an unexpected relationship.

Director: Bouli Lanners

Writer: Bouli Lanners

Starring: Michelle Fairley, Bouli Lanners, Cal MacAninch, Clovis Cornillac, Julian Glover, Andrew Still

Year: 2021

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: France, Belgium, UK


Glasgow 2022

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