Film Review: Away

Director David Blair’s Away is an inviting drama, with great performances from its two leads. The film tells a sweet story, despite some harsh circumstances.

Runaway Ria is trying to get away from her past. Joseph is in a desperate mindset. Despite their differences, the pair form an unlikely friendship in the seaside town of Blackpool…

Directed by David Blair with a screenplay by Roger Hadfield, Away is a drama with accents of a mystery thriller. The narrative is littered with flashbacks which offer both exposition and character development. The central strand is the friendship between Ria and Joseph, and there are a number of themes at play. There are overt and more subtle references to fairy tales. There is also a overarching theme of confinement which effects both protagonists.

As the film features numerous flashbacks, viewers must wait to see the backstories of both protagonists. In the first third of the film, it is not always immediately clear whether a scene is a flashback or present day. This can be a little confusing to begin with, but the distinction is clearer later in the film. It appears the emphasis is on the burgeoning friendship, rather than focusing on a chronological narrative. The friendship between Ria and Joseph seems authentic, thanks to the performances and a decent script.

Away is set in Blackpool, and the town is a fitting backdrop for the action to unfold. Sometimes the setting is used as a stark contrast to proceedings; the colour and light diverge from the bleak histories of the characters. Other times (the shots of the calm sea, for example), the mood seems to compliment the foreground entirely. Juno Temple delivers a wholly convincing performance as Ria. Timothy Spall is also great as Joseph; his controlled performance allows Temple to shine. Hayley Squires is also good in a support role.

Although the conclusion may not quite satisfy, Away is nevertheless a rewarding watch.

Away is available on VOD on 8th May 2017. The film is released in cinemas on 12th May, and on DVD on 15th May 2017.

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