Scarborough might be low budget indie territory but the issues being examined supersede outward appearances. Above all it examines human complexities without providing neat resolutions or narrative safety nets.
This small location based indie drama might deal with familiar relationship issues, moral quandaries and recognisable ethical dilemmas but Scarborough feels fresh. Carried by an established and experienced cast who can count Peaky Blinders, The Witcher and Taboo amongst their resumes, the film offers up no easy resolutions. Essentially a two-hander featuring couples who check into an old seaside hotel, it asks questions over issues of infidelity, gender expectation as well as matters of propriety.
There is an honest and stark isolation which comes through from the choice of location that adds rather than detracts from the central premise. Jessica Barden and Edward Hogg give their characters depth without drifting into cliché, while Barden especially shows a maturity which belies her years in the more emotional scenes. What director and screenwriter Barnaby Southcombe does through his adaptation of the original play is mirror encounters through dialogue early on, before moving his actors outside. This takes away the stilted quality which stage plays sometimes suffer from whilst allowing the principals and audience a break from an inherent claustrophobia.
Although the story is familiar, power continually shifts as age related conversations play out. Interesting deviations include the differing dynamic of both men in each situation, but also how emotional reactions alter the women throughout. Outside of these couples sits an equally important third party who passes comment occasionally and facilitates or hinders accordingly. Their position is neither the moral high ground nor dissenting voice of disapproval. If anything the concierge is more a comment on gender politics rather than moderating presence.
Barnaby Southcombe has been sure to ask the questions whilst keeping his opinions suitably vague. His cast is savvy enough to work within those perimeters and their progression over the ninety minute running time creates impact and grounds everything. Scarborough might be low budget indie territory but the issues being examined supersede outward appearances. Above all it examines human complexities without providing neat resolutions or narrative safety nets. Unlike more conventional mainstream dramas, Southcombe makes it clear that happily-ever-after does not always apply.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Barnaby Southcombe
Written by: Barnaby Southcombe
Starring: Jessica Barden, Jordan Bolger, Edward Hogg, Jodhi May
Released: 2018 / Genre: Drama, Romance
Country: UK / IMDB
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Scarborough was released in select UK cinemas on September 6, 2019.