You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hallam Foe

Tip-top performances, led by young British thesp Jamie Bell, and a deftly handled tone reflecting all the title teen's confused emotions make "Hallam Foe" a viewing delight.

Hallam - Jamie Bell Kate - Sophia Myles Julius - Ciaran Hinds Alasdair - Jamie Sives Raymond - Maurice Roeves Andy - Ewen Bremner Verity - Claire Forlani Jenny - Ruthie Milne Carl - John Paul Lawler Lucy - Lucy Holt

Tip-top performances, led by young British thesp Jamie Bell, and a deftly handled tone reflecting all the title teen’s confused emotions make “Hallam Foe” a viewing delight. Left-of-center rites of passager, marbled with comic moments, confirm writer-director David Mackenzie (“Young Adam”) as one of Blighty’s most distinctive talents, with a real feel for emotional intimacy and a cinematic way of presenting it. Though pic is unlikely to be a mass audience-pleaser, “Hallam” looks capable of tweaking plenty of upscale pockets in the hands of savvy distribs and with critical support. Film perked up the final days of this year’s Berlinale.

Bell plays Hallam Foe, 17-year-old son of apparently wealthy Scottish Highlands businessman Julius Foe (Ciaran Hinds). Hallam has retreated into a semi-fantasy world following the death of his beloved mom. Still convinced she was murdered by his stepmother Verity (Claire Forlani), rather than having drowned by accident in the nearby loch, Hallam amuses himself by spying on people and living like a pesky monkey in a treetop cabin that doubles as a shrine to mom.

Popular on Variety

Tone of intimacy and playfulness is immediately set by a sequence in which, half-naked and wearing a badger skin, he abseils down on a couple enjoying a roll in the forest. But when his sister (Lucy Holt) leaves for Australia, Hallam feels isolated, and a chance exchange of bodily fluids with his stepmother turns into Verity’s big kiss-off to her troublesome stepson.

With Hallam’s background succinctly sketched, pic follows him as he hops a train to Edinburgh in search of a new life, but the sight of a striking young woman in the street turns him in another direction. Following her to her workplace, he finds she’s the personnel manager of a large hotel and manages to charm his way into giving him a menial job in the kitchen.

But the real reason Hallam followed her was because Kate (Sophia Myles, from “Tristan & Isolde”) is a dead ringer for his mom in her youth. That’s the start of a funny, quirky, romantic and lightly dramatic love story in which Hallam, spying on her apartment from his new nest in a clocktower, becomes entranced by the businesslike and forthright Kate.

However, when Kate’s married lover (Jamie Sives) finds Hallam is playing Peeping Tom, and an 18th-birthday drink leads to Kate taking Hallam back to her apartment, the latter finds himself on an emotional roller coaster beyond his or Kate’s control.

Straight sex as a spiritual placebo was one of the driving forces behind the main character in “Young Adam.” Mackenzie proves again he’s an ace handler of such material, but the sex in “Hallam Foe” has none of the dark joylessness of the earlier pic. Chemistry between Bell and Myles is especially good, with the former radiating a mixture of angelic charm and manipulation, and the latter sending out subtle signals that Kate, underneath her business suit, simply needs regular servicing.

Tightly honed script, from the novel by Peter Jinks, is backed by equally tight editing. Film loses some momentum (and becomes a tad overexplanatory) with Hallam’s return to the Highlands, but a beautifully played coda ends the pic on a moving and satisfying note.

Perfs are all on the money, from Hinds’ essentially weak paterfamilias to Forlani’s coolly upper-class stepmom and Sives’ thuggish lover. Scottish accents are light throughout, apart from Ewen Bremner’s inpenetrable turn as a jokey bell captain.

Widescreen lensing by Mackenzie regular Giles Nuttgens is equally textured and well-composed, and a bouncy pop-rock score keeps things largely on the lighter side. Lively graphics for both main and end titles also add bounce.

Hallam Foe


Production: A Buena Vista Intl. release of a Film4, Ingenious Film Partners, Scottish Screen, Glasgow Film Finance presentation, in association with Independent Film Sales, of a Sigma Films production, in association with Lunar Films. (International sales: Independent, London.) Produced by Gillian Berrie. Executive producers, Matthew Justice, David Mackenzie, Peter Carlton, Carole Sheridan, Lenny Crooks, Peter Touche, Duncan Reid. Directed by David Mackenzie. Screenplay, Ed Whitmore, Mackenzie, from the novel by Peter Jinks.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, widescreen), Giles Nuttgens; editor, Colin Monie; music, various; production designer, Tom Sayer; art director, Caroline Grebbell; costume designer, Trisha Biggar; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Brill; sound designer, Douglas MacDougall; associate producer, Angus Pigott; assistant director, Deborah Saban; casting, Kahleen Crawford, Des Hamilton. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 16, 2007. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Hallam - Jamie Bell Kate - Sophia Myles Julius - Ciaran Hinds Alasdair - Jamie Sives Raymond - Maurice Roeves Andy - Ewen Bremner Verity - Claire Forlani Jenny - Ruthie Milne Carl - John Paul Lawler Lucy - Lucy HoltWith: Malcolm Shields, John Comerford, Gerry Cleary, Paul Blair, Neil McKinven, Stuart Hepburn, Kirsty Shepheard.

More Film

  • The Champion

    Italy's 'The Champion' Picked Up for France Ahead of De Rome a Paris (EXCLUSIVE)

    French distributor Destiny Films has acquired rights for France to Italian soccer dramedy “The Champion” from Italy’s True Colours in the runup to the De Rome a Paris festival and confab, which kicks off Friday. Produced by Matteo Rovere’s Groenlandia (“Romulus”), “The Champion” turns on the uneasy relationship between a young male soccer star and [...]

  • Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is

    AACTA International Awards Nominations Favor 'The Irishman'

    Netflix’s “The Irishman” garnered the most nominations for the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts International Awards. It picked up six nods, ahead of five for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” and the four each for “Joker,” “Bombshell,” and “Parasite.” AACTA’s international awards seek to “(honor) the best achievements in film excellence, regardless [...]

  • Prince Dead

    'Purple Rain,' 'Clerks, 'She's Gotta Have It' Added to National Film Registry

    “Purple Rain,” “Clerks,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Amadeus,” “Sleeping Beauty,””Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Last Waltz” are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The list also includes 1944’s “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance; the 1955 film noir “The Phenix City Story,” [...]

  • 6 Underground

    Michael Bay's '6 Underground': Film Review

    If “6 Underground” were opening in theaters, you’d want to be sure to get there on time. Within the first six minutes, Michael Bay destroys a plane, a motorcycle, three cars, countless pedestrians, and the dignity of three Italian nuns. I’m fairly certain that Ryan Reynolds — who heads up the film’s off-the-grid vigilante squad, [...]

  • Juliette Binoche (L) and Catherine Deneuve

    Macao Festival: Juliette Binoche Tells 'The Truth' About Acting

    It’s hard for Juliette Binoche to think about her recent career trajectory from a bird’s eye view as she hurtles along within it. She has put out five films in the past two years. Her latest is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s French-language drama “The Truth,” which is getting her Oscar buzz for her role opposite Catherine Deneuve. [...]

  • Kathy Bates Walk of Fame Honor

    Kathy Bates Erroneously Submitted for Lead Actress in SAG Awards Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    If dark horse awards contender Kathy Bates is absent in the best supporting actress category come tomorrow’s Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, don’t be too quick to put in on her performance in “Richard Jewell.” A clerical error was made by the Clint Eastwood film’s distributor Warner Bros., an insider with knowledge of the mixup [...]

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content