After Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road,” Morag McKinnon’s “Donkeys” is the second pic in the “Advance Party” trilogy, with three frosh helmers each tackling a film about the same Glaswegian characters (though the stories are not necessarily connected). Focus here shifts from Kate Dickie’s CCTV operator to her cantankerous father, Alfie (James Cosmo), and the pic itself moves from an accomplished auteur film to an uneven familial comedy-drama that, like “Road,” relies too much on late-in-the-game reveals. Some fests have come a-callin’ but pic will make more moolah as the middle disc in the box set, if the trilogy is completed.

Main problem is the screenplay, which piles on too many twists (illnesses, deaths, paternity issues) to remain in the realm of realism, and switches gears too frequently and jarringly between comedy and melodrama. A suicide perfectly illustrates scripter Colin McLaren and helmer McKinnon’s inability to make pathos and humor coexist in a single scene. Cosmo is fine but unexceptional, and Dickie and Martin Compston, both encoring, do a lot with very little. Tech credits are serviceable rather than aces, as in “Road.”



  • Production: A Sigma Films production, in association with Zentropa5 Entertainment, with the participation of the U.K. Film Council, Scottish Screen, Glasgow Film Office, DFI. (International sales: Sigma Films, Glasgow.) Produced by Anna Duffield. Executive producers, Gillian Berrie, Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Caroline Sheridan. Co-producer, Charlotte Pedersen. Directed by Morag McKinnon. Screenplay, Colin McLaren, based on characters by Lorne Sherfig, Anders Thomas Jensen.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Lol Crawley; editors, Colin Monie, Jake Roberts; music, Magnus Fiennes; production designer, Mark Leese; costume designer, Anna Lau. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival (competing), Dec. 10, 2010. (Also in Edinburgh Film Festival.) Running time: 78 MIN.
  • With: With: James Cosmo, Brian Pettifer, Martin Compston, Kate Dickie.
  • Music By: