Wasted Time


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Wasted Time
"Leiper's performance is perfectly judged and holds the rest of the film together."

Based in Glasgow, Shooters Films is a company dedicated to getting young people involved in filmmaking and giving disadvantaged groups a voice. One of their ongoing projects involves working with inmates in Barlinnie, Scotland's most famous prison. Wasted time emerged from stories told by those inmates and some of them star in the film, part of a process that assisted in their rehabilitation.

To Glaswegians, Barlinnie is a legendary place with a reputation for violence. Young Tommy (Neil Leiper) is afraid of going in there - and is, in fact, innocent of the crime for which he's been convicted - but he is persuaded to accept a sentence in return for the assurance that his family will be well looked after. That deal starts to look a lot poorer when instead of six months he gets seven years, and as he approaches the halfway point, with the possibility of parole, he receives the devastating news that his father has died. With the man who promised to help him apparently doing nothing, he begins to lose his temper. Everything he put his trust in is falling apart.

It's a simple tale and not a particularly unusual one, but then, most such stories run along similar lines in real life. What gives this its power is the intensity of the telling. Most of it is filmed inside Barlinnie itself and the natural camaraderie between the inmates - and the professional actors they've got to know - adds to the realism. it also creates a claustrophobic atmosphere that is complemented by the grimness of streets in Tommy's old neighbourhood on the outside, by the sameness of the houses. Tommy's mother drinks. His wee brother drifts toward crime. It's not clear that there are many more opportunities on the outside than on the inside - but there are additional kinds of danger.

Wasted Time was made on a very low budget and occasionally this shows in rough-looking camerawork, especially in the outdoor material. Here first person shots create a sense of drifting through busy Glasgow streets without quite connecting, perhaps because people like Tommy, problems like Tommy's, are all too often invisible to passers-by. The only place he feels at ease is outside the city, in a place his father used to take him to, and the use of traditional Celtic music suggests a need for spiritual or emotional reconnection - for an awareness that there are bigger things than day to day life seems to offer.

Leiper's performance is perfectly judged and holds the rest of the film together even towards the end when things start to feel a bit contrived. It's an impressive follow-up to his work in The Angels' Share and shows he's worth keeping an eye on. By the looks of this film, so is Shooters.

Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2015
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An innocent young man confesses to a crime so his family will be cared for, but things don't go to plan.

Director: Moe Abutoq, David Hayman Jr.

Writer: Martin McCardie

Starring: Robert Johnstone, Neil Leiper, Brian McCardie

Year: 2014

Runtime: 54 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2015

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