A little of “Gallivant” goes a long way, but there’s no doubt this decidedly off-the-wall feature docu intros a fresh talent in former shortmaker Andrew Kotting. Chronicling a journey round Britain’s seaboard by the helmer, his mildly eccentric grandmother Gladys and his young, speech-impaired daughter, Eden, the humor-filled pic doubles as a Cook’s Tour of Blighty’s natives and as a simple hymn to the optimism of the human spirit.
Starting in Bexhill-on-Sea on the south coast and, in three months, working their way clockwise round the island, Kotting and company meet various locals in key locations, some of whom just answer the director’s general questions on Life , others of whom sing a regional song. In between, Gladys conducts a chirpy, largely one-way conversation with Eden, whose responses are subtitled, as well as chatting with the crew.
With a disarming lack of self-pity, Kotting explains he wanted to get the three of them together on a memorable adventure while it was still possible. Gladys is 85, and 7-year-old Eden, who has Jouberts Syndrome, may not live to see adulthood. At two points, Kotting and his crew journey on alone while Gladys and Eden go home for a rest.
Using speeded-up action, various formats (from video through Super-8 to Super-16), plus period docu footage (with its hilariously cozy view of ’50s English life), “Gallivant” is a grab bag of snapshots of British types and mind-sets that’s highly entertaining for a while but starts to lose steam and repeat itself about halfway, especially as the pic has no particular point of view or developing argument. At an hour, rather than 103 minutes, this would be a much sharper work.
Film won the best director award at its Edinburgh fest preem. For foreign viewers, not so attuned to the locations’ special flavor and the journey’s geography, some kind of graphic charting of the odyssey would be useful.