The Cull

The Cull

***

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"There isn't another place where heaven and hell are so close together". If that place is a small farm, or the moors of the Peak District, or between a mother and a father, all are accurate.

The Cull is a powerful short, soundtracked with the wind, the echoes of manual labour, and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. It's an odd, discomfiting mix, in a bleak landscape of "pain and beauty" - bloodied wool dancing in the wind across a barbed wire fence.

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Steve Evets (of Looking For Eric, a host of TV shows set in the North, and briefly The Fall) is Paddy, a farmer whose son plays the piano. He makes a series of attempts to inculcate the virtues of hill-side farming to him, with increasingly distressing results. As he does so his wife, played by Jennifer Hennessy, looks on while becoming increasingly concerned. She too is somewhat of a TV veteran, with stints in soaps and a minor role in a Doctor Who to go with her role in the original The Office.

Andrew Walker's script is short on words but has plenty of depth, and Jonathan Harris' direction is assured. There is some measure of trauma, as the escalating lessons for the boy become tougher, both physically and emotionally. Jonathan Mason is excellent, though this may come as no surprise to those who saw him five years ago in Lassie or who are fans of CBBC's The Revenge Files Of Alistair Fury. Opposite Evets (whose grizzled countenance fits well with the landscape we are presented with) he is cowed, and desperate, and with Hennessy there is a gentleness that impresses.

The Cull tends to the melancholy, though that is to its credit. With something that is at once as significant and as slight it would be easy for subtleties to be lost, but they aren't - even on the moors delicacy can survive, at least for a time.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2010
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A boy clashes with his father as the older man tries to teach him about life on a remote Peak District farm.
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Director: Jonathan Harris

Writer: Andrew Walker

Starring: Steve Evets, Jennifer Hennessey, Jonathan Mason

Year: 2010

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2010

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