Rough Skin

Rough Skin


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Rough Skin is an affecting film about motherhood and society. It manages to tread delicate ground without becoming overblown, ably using its time on screen to hint and suggest and then powerfully reveal.

Kelly, played by This Is England alum Vicky McClure, is recently out of prison. She is collected from the gates by her mother. There is excellent framing, trees through car windows, skies through telephone wires, as she comes 'home' to an anonymous housing estate.

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Channel 4's Coming Up provides opportunities for new writers and directors, and this is a great indicator of talent. Aided by good performances from McClure and from Lorraine Ashbourne as her mother, Laura Lomas' script produces some stunning dialogue. A conversation that moves from "asking" to "questioning", a chase around a children's play park, and a constant sense of despair from a part of society that's recursively fatherless all build.

There are good supporting turns from Marc Ryan-Jordan as the hapless (or perhaps feckless) Sean, a good turn from Anna Clark as a young girl Kelly meets in potentially awkward circumstances, and Natalie Burt and Sandra Maitland convince as petty functionaries in the pastel bureacracy of benefits and housing.

Cathy Brady's direction seems sure-footed. Recurrent devices like windows and telephone wires all build a sense of place that's compelling, even if that space isn't necessarily physical.

Special mention should be made of Dan Parry, who supplied distinct and excellent music to all seven films in this year's Coming Up project. It's rare to get the chance to see a film composer operate in so many genres and so many tones in such short order, but over the three and a half hours or so of Coming Up 2011 his talent is well in evidence. Of course, it's not him that's coming up.

This is at times quite uncomfortable viewing, intimate, neatly demonstrating the barriers that can be created for and by people in their lives. Series cinematographer Tim Palmer (and the rest of the Coming Up team) appear to have done great work in part because their efforts are invisible - that technical assurance means that Lomas' and Brady's talent is visible on the screen. Two questions frame the film - "Have you seen anyone?" and "Do you think it will stop soon?". The answers to both indicate the quality of this short film.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2011
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A former prisoner struggles to readjust to family life.

Director: Cathy Brady

Writer: Laura Lomas

Starring: Anna Clark, Lorraine Ashbourne, Marc Ryan-Jordan, Natalie Burke, Vicky McClure

Year: 2011

Runtime: 25 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2011

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