There has been a lot to get excited about in British cinema in recent years, but it has to be recognised that For Those in Peril, the debut feature from writer / director Paul Wright is truly leading the way. For those who may be searching for something more than the bleak imagery that is commonplace in British films, For Those in Peril is truly a unique and remarkable contribution.
It’s still bleak by all means, and in fact the cloud of grief that will consume you after viewing will be hard to shake, but what your left with is the knowledge that you have witnessed a piece of cinema that will truly be remembered as a masterpiece.
Aaron, played by the exceptional George Mackay, has been ostracised by his community after a fishing accident claims the lives of a group of young men, including his older brother. He is blamed for the accident, and seen as a sort of curse on the superstitious townsfolk of the village.
Feeling increasingly isolated and submerged in a pit of despair, he desperately clutches to the hope that in some way, he can see his brother again. His belief is so strong, that the lines between fiction and reality become muddled, and the viewer is pulled through a cycle of childish hope and despondency. Wright’s fascination with the powers of thought, particularly grief, shines through here.
The ludicrousness of Aaron’s ideas are somehow totally acceptable even within the naturalistic world of the film; after all, are his fantasies any more ridiculous than those of the people who have turned on him? And not only are they acceptable, they’re welcomed, they are beautiful, they are a release for Aaron and for the viewer. Dream and memories are intertwined with truth, although where the truth of the film lies never fully understood.
The cast are solid, with an understated performance from the superb Kate Dickie, and from Nichola Burley, who acts as an unlikely ally to Aaron. The development of their friendship provides some warmth, and is a welcome comfort to Aaron in a world of hostility and loneliness.
The film also looks beautiful, at parts using both video and super 8 to create a dream like quality that is often misused in cinema today. For Those in Peril is a wonderfully original, tragic, and yet uplifting piece of cinema. One can only hope that this is the start of a long feature-making career for Paul Wright, although it’s almost impossible to imagine how he could top it now.
This review was originally written for The Fan Carpet