Sunday, 2 May 2010

THE MIDNIGHT DRIVES (UK/2007/MARK JENKIN)

Andy, a downtrodden man estranged from his ex-wife, gets custody of his children for a week, and decides to take them on holiday to a remote Cornish resort he had frequented as a child. Casey, the younger of Andy’s kids, shows clear resentment for him and even calls his mother to bring them back home, while Gabby seems more concerned with the word ‘holiday’ than the word ‘Dad’. Despite his continual efforts to ignite the kids’ enthusiasm, Andy soon learns that childhood pursuits have evolved quicker than expected. As he struggles to regain his sense of fatherhood, the holiday looks to be turning into a disaster, but when night falls, the family suddenly grows closer as Andy takes the kids on a series of spontaneous drives through the nocturnal landscape.

Wonderfully shot with a palette of reserved colours, The Midnight Drives has much more in common with European film trends than with British kitchen-sink realism. Director Mark Jenkin reveals little about his characters beyond their activities during the holiday, but the film is stronger for it – through revisiting a childhood haunt with his own children, Andy is seen as a man trying to start things again, and it seems only right that this is the version of events we should see. At times the film is a little too subtle to make a big impact, but for the most part it appeals to its audience’s sensitivities. Gently dramatic and full of intrigue, The Midnight Drives is a trip worth taking.





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