Helen Aitken

My Accomplice

Lenin, Seagulls and the 1993 World Cup.

“Are you going to Wivelsfield?” asks Frank at the climax of this film. It is almost a poignant moment, using a running joke to circumlocute his real meaning, bound up with the messy but almost believable love story that forms the basis of My Accomplice. Almost. Because My Accomplice, directed by Charlie Weaver Rolfe, is a rather flawed film.

It has its genuinely funny moments – Frank’s account of how Scotland has won the world cup many times springs to mind – but to some extent these moments of good writing and performance only serve to highlight problems elsewhere. The tone is uncertain, as the film strives to achieve naturalistic performances, and then cuts away from the plot to sequences resembling music videos. It is tempting to compare it to the scrapbooks made by Ilse in the film; too bitty, too incoherent, and too achingly self aware to have any general appeal.

This is a film that makes an attempt to be stylised according to the hipster aesthetic, using unusual music and kooky costume choices to make itself seem likeable, whilst forgetting that the only way to really achieve likeability is to invest in character and story. So it neglects the heart of its love story, devoting too much screen time to some of its more off-beat elements.
Next time, perhaps, Weaver Rolfe will have more confidence in his story and allow that, rather than style, to carry the film; in that case I would be easily persuaded to watch the results.


Hide and Seek

Joanna Coates’ Hide and Seek is an extraordinary film, the like of which is only rarely seen. Semi-improvised, it tells the story of a group of four young people who choose to retire from society and live communally, sharing everything from sexual partners to cooking duties. All this is depicted frankly and openly, along with beautiful and sometimes surreal scenes of the characters playing together to entertain one another. And, unusually for a film dealing with this subject, it rejects cynicism in a way that is touchingly heartfelt.

This is a film that makes great promises of liberation and acceptance of alternative ways to live, but its greatest flaw is that it sometimes shies away from following through on these promises. In particular, it’s depiction of sexuality is unexpectedly heternormative, despite frequent hints that the group aims to transcend exactly that social attitude. Instead of allowing the characters to be openly comfortable with their own heterosexuality the film flirts half-heartedly with depictions of homosexuality, which feels jarringly hypocritical in this context.

Another aspect of the film that can be troubling is its use of child-like imagery which is frequently associated with images of sex. However, it is perhaps best to read this as an affirmation that bringing a child-like approach to the world and lack of inhibition to adult relationships is both possible and desirable. Perhaps then this film is like the relationships it depicts; imperfect, but in many ways far better what has been produced by a more conventional approach.

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