Albatross (15)

Film image

The View Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner12/10/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Hugely enjoyable, frequently funny British coming-of-age drama with a sharply written script, a nice sense of location, a superb supporting cast and a star-making turn from Jessica Brown Findlay.

What's it all about?
Directed by Niall McCormick, Albatross is set in an unnamed British seaside town and stars Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) as 17-year-old Emelia Conan-Doyle, a free-spirited wannabe writer who's finding her famous ancestor quite difficult to live up to. When she takes a job as a cleaner at a cliff-house hotel owned by frustrated author Jonathan Fischer (Sebastian Koch), she seduces him into helping with her writing, something he doesn't bother to tell his nagging wife Joanna (Julia Ormond) or his bookish teenage daughter Beth (Felicity Jones), who also befriends Emelia.

The Good
Jessica Brown Findlay is sensational as Emelia, delivering a captivating performance that ensures that you root for her to succeed, even when her actions are less than sympathetic. She also has striking chemistry with co-star Felicity Jones (who's on her usual terrific form here) and it's their friendship that ultimately forms the heart of the film.

Sebastian Koch is equally good as Jonathan, managing to keep his character just the right side of sleazy, despite the fact that Emelia catches him watching porn in an early scene. However, the supporting honours are neatly stolen by Julia Ormond, who has a great line in sarcastic, angry comebacks, such as when Jonathan tells her “You'd slept with half of Basingstoke at her age” and she replies “LUCKY FUCKING BASINGSTOKE!”

The Great
The script is full of witty touches as well as some terrible jokes that don't really come off but somehow remain charming, such as Emelia introducing herself to Beth as “Selina Molina, the cleaner.” Tamzin Refn's script also gives Emelia a number of memorable moments, whether it's flashing her boobs to buy alcohol, dressing up as Princess Leia (and seducing the Pope) at Beth's younger sister's P-themed party or ruffling feathers when she accompanies Beth to Oxford for a university interview.

If there's a problem with the film it's only that some of the big speeches seem a little unpolished (in particular, Emelia's big emotional scene with her grandad, played by veteran actor Peter Vaughan) and Emelia's initial motivation in seducing Jonathan is unclear, but the film is charming enough overall to compensate for its flaws.

Worth seeing?
Albatross is a hugely enjoyable coming-of-age drama that's worth seeing for a star-making turn from Jessica Brown Findlay. It would make a great double-bill with Wish You Were Here (an obvious influence). Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Albatross (15)
Be the first to review Albatross...
Content updated: 26/09/2015 07:32

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hitwise Award Winner