New on DVD: Mister Foe

The title suggests the subject would be an older man – at least someone who has traversed his teens. So when the story begins with an adolescent, I was still expecting a fast-forward to occur; until I realized this young man was Mister Foe.

Hallam Foe (Jamie Bell) is 17-years-old. His father (Ciarán Hinds) married his secretary (Claire Forlani) after the death of Hallam’s mother and he and his sister Lucy (Lucy Holt) have been sure to make her feel unwelcome. No longer comfortable in his home, Hallam spends most of his time in a tree house spying on passersby and his own family. But Lucy is off to college and stepmom feels it’s time Hallam also flew the nest. He runs away to the big city and finds himself obsessing over Kate (Sophia Myles), the HR manager of a hotel at which he gains employment.

Hallam is a difficult character to grasp or feel empathy towards. He is hanging on to the grief of his mother’s passing, convinced foul play had a role; he is very intelligent but somewhat stunted; and his “habit” of peeping at people is somewhat unsettling. Furthermore, his embrace of Oedipal desire and the events that succeed its unmasking is additionally disturbing and difficult to comprehend.

That said, the acting is top-notch. Bell appears to understand his character’s inner struggles and motivations and does a good job conveying their effects to the audience. He spends much of the film not saying a word, so his ability to do so is a tribute to his talent as an actor. Conversely, while Myles may have an understanding of her character’s motivations, she does not reveal them to the audience; but Kate seems like someone who holds her cards close to the chest anyway.

The shooting locations are quite attractive. Hallam spends much of his time on the outside of things, so it highlights the architecture in this area of Scotland. The roofing design of Kate’s apartment is particularly appealing.

Finally, the lively soundtrack is very present in the film. It features music from Franz Ferdinand, Sons and Daughters, and Orange Juice. A bonus feature dedicated to the music would have been appreciated.

There are only two DVD special features. The six deleted scenes are quite revealing of Hallam. They show the close relationship he had with his sister and the uneasy one with his father; another shows his compassion as he reaches out to help a stranger. Alternatively, the 11-minute behind-the-scenes featurette unveils Bell the actor, messy hair and all. It is an interesting contrast.

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