Movie Review – Shell (2012)

Director: Scott Graham

Stars: Chloe Pirrie, Joseph Mawle, Iain De Caestecker, Michael Smiley

Shell is set around a remote petrol station in the Scottish Highlands. Shell (Pirrie) lives there alone with her father, Pete (Mawle), and the only interaction they have with other people are when customers come by. They have a few regulars, including the young man Adam (De Caestecker) and an older gentlemen, Hugh (Smiley), both who have designs on Shell. However, the physical and emotional barriers between Shell and her father become blurred because of their reliance on one another.

The subject matter of Shell is instantly going to make some people squirm and I’m not sure that it has a very big audience. I like challenging material like this, but it is a slow-paced film with minimal dialogue and while it makes an effort to not be excruciating, it’s not a gripping watch.

The actors all do a good job. We’re given early indications that the relationship between Shell and her father isn’t exactly normal. He suffers from seizures and she has to take care of him, but she keeps pushing the boundaries of affection and he tries to push her back. Through the customers that come to the petrol station we see how hard life can be in the highlands with so few people around. Shell always gives off a strange vibe, which is understandable as she hasn’t been around many people other than her father. It’s clear that she wants to be a surrogate wife but while she is the aggressor she never pushes fully, probably because she’s unaware of how to go about it.

There are moments that are uncomfortable to watch but there are also tender moments, and moments where I genuinely felt for the characters. I thought the isolation was captured well and it made me wonder how long I’d last if I had to live up there.

I quite enjoyed it, and I think it’s the kind of film that once you find out what it’s about you know whether you’re going to watch it or not.


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