No man is an island…
Made back in 2008 and now making its TV and DVD debut just in time for Father’s Day, Mark Aldridge’s Blessed has at its heart a powerful performance from James Nesbitt that just about keeps it out of ‘movie of the week’ territory.
He is Peter who, when the film opens, is living in isolation as the lighthouse keeper on a remote Scottish island. Through a series of flashbacks, we see his life hasn’t always been like this; formally a city trader, he left everything behind following a devastating family tragedy. Peter copes with an overwhelming sense of guilt and grief by shutting out the world, but his self-imposed exile is shattered by the sudden arrival of Charlotte (Lilian Woods), a young girl who literally washes up on the shore. Despite having lived through her own nightmare, Charlotte has an unshakeable love for life and, as her charms begin to take effect, Peter begins to realise that hope may not be lost forever.
Despite Blessed’s focus on universal themes of family, identity and love, it is a pretty small-scale affiar; the majority of the film is a two-hander between the (mainly mute) Peter and the livewire Charlotte. Nesbitt is as watchable as ever, convincing in his portrayal of a man who has lost everything even when the script distills him down to cliché; there are endless shots of looking wistfully into space, gazing at old keepsakes and eating acres of soup. Newcomer Woods is a delight, her childish optimism and innocence cutting through Peter’s moroseness, and she more than holds her own through some of her character’s more difficult scenes.
It is, however, the cinematography by Steve Weiser that is the star of the show. The Isles of Skye are utterly beguiling, shots of lapping waves, sunsets and the wild and haunting landscapes both reflecting Peter’s emotional state and providing the perfect backdrop for his journey to redemption
It’s unfortunate, then, that the film’s ending feels utterly contrived and unbelievable enough to pull you out of the story; and the follow-up shapshots that are featured throughout the closing credits do nothing to offset the feeling of unease at the pat outcome. Still, Blessed is a solid debut from writer/director Mark Aldridge and his producer wife Mary, and should find an audience who are more than willing to succumb to its charms. 3 stars
Stars James Nesbitt, Lillian Woods
Director Mark Aldridge
Released June 21