Wednesday, June 16, 2010

EIFF Premiere: "Pelican Blood" (2009)

This isn't your typical romance in a fantastic debut from director Karl Golden. The plan was for Nikko (Harry Treadaway) to commit suicide along with his girlfriend, Stevie (Emma Booth). Only he went through with the plan, and in doing so created collateral damage of severely injuring his sister. Later, Stevie returns and they entwine themselves with each other all over again.

It's intriguing to wonder if the couple is truly in love or simply destroying each other leading themselves to a path of self-destruction. Like the couple at its center, the film itself is surprisingly playful while supremely dark in equal parts. The lead performances from Treadaway and Booth are excellent as their passions and recklessness are believable.

To understand whether Nikko and Stevie have really changed since their initial plans is impossible. Nikko is a bird watcher, and he states that once he hits 500 birds he's going to off himself. But is he serious? Stevie is an animal rights activist, and one run-in with a man stealing rare birds' eggs gets her a little too riled up. Does she throw herself into danger on purpose?

The film echoes many other indie romances in the way it is soundtrack driven. An early scene set to "Crimewave" by Crystal Castles vs. Health is inspired. The expertly structured writing from Cris Cole keeps any of this far from falling to contemporary clichés, though, by tackling disturbing thematic material of suicide with a sharp vision.

And in thinking about the powerful ending, the title of "Pelican Blood" is ingeniously metaphorical of the way a sacrificial pelican would behave in nature.

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