Review: ‘One Life Stand’

Amid all the debate over DV vs. celluloid, especially in smaller industries, May Miles Thomas' "One Life Stand" emerges as a perfect example of craft transcending technical origins. Made as a no-budget, personal exercise by the Glaswegian filmer, drama about a devoted single mother and her uncaring teenage son announces a considerable talent in waiting.

Amid all the debate over DV vs. celluloid, especially in smaller industries, May Miles Thomas’ “One Life Stand” emerges as a perfect example of craft transcending technical origins. Made as a no-budget, personal exercise by the Glaswegian filmer, drama about a devoted single mother and her uncaring teenage son announces a considerable talent in waiting.

Shot on a regular camcorder (rather than DigiBeta) and in B&W (giving the pic a more “cinematic” quality), film looked OK in digital projection at its Edinburgh festival screening. Maureen Carr shines as Trise, a tough, loving and independent mother, separated from her idler husband (Gary Lewis), who gets her 18-year-old son, John Paul (John Kielty), a start in life as a model but gets little thanks as he starts to succeed. Full of humorous and touching moments, and far from being the downbeat grunge it sounds, pic has a rarefied, slightly abstract quality, thanks to Miles Thomas’ formal, fixed-camera style, fluid editing and pertinent use of close-ups. Bobby Henry’s ethereal music is a fine complement to the images, and there isn’t a weak link in the varied cast. Scottish accents, however, are extremely thick.

One Life Stand

U.K.

Production

An Elemental Films production. (International sales: Elemental, Glasgow.) Produced by Karen M. Smyth. Executive producer, Owen Thomas. Directed, written, edited by May Miles Thomas.

Crew

Camera (B&W, DV), Miles Thomas; music, Bobby Henry; production designer, Ewen Duncan; art director, Claire Pidgeon; costumes, Carole K. Millar. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (Focus on British Cinema), Aug. 21, 2000. Running time: 119 MIN.

With

Maureen Carr, John Kielty, Gary Lewis, Archie Lal, Alyson Orr, Rohanna Law, Ros McCue.
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