For Those in Peril
Film Title: For Those in Peril
Director: Paul Wright
Starring: George Mackay, Brian McCardie, Kate Dickie
Running Time: 93 min
There are very, very faint hints of Peter Weir’s Fearless in this determinedly left-field attempt to connect with the notion of survivor’s guilt. Paul Wright’s feature debut is, however, a great deal more salty, grubby and angular than that 1993 American film. Largely set in a remote Scottish village, For Those in Peril smells as if it has been dragged from the briny deep to receive only superficial hosing down before being dumped in unsuspecting cinemas. This is mostly a good thing.
The excellent George Mackay plays Aaron, the only survivor of a trawler that sank with his brother on board. His mother (Kate Dickie) remains devoted. The woman his brother loved (Nichola Burley) is also understanding. But many in the wider community view Aaron as cursed, cowardly or complicit.
When the film attends to the nuts and bolts of narrative, it succeeds admirably. Mackay’s permanently blasted face conveys the confliction of a man who can’t process his largely irrational feelings of guilt. The flashbacks hint at dishonesties as they flesh out the complex family dynamics. The unstoppable Michael Smiley is more than usually terrifying as a Northern Irish sociopath.
Wright’s experiments with editing and stock are mostly successful. Nicely scored by Erik Enocksson, such avant garde gestures help us understand the confusion within Aaron’s mind.
Unfortunately, For Those in Peril does allow in a few too many sequences – notably those between Burley and Mackay – that sound more like improvised theatre than real people in real situations. A final outbreak of surrealism seems entirely out of place and nudges the film towards absurdity.
Still, For Those in Peril remains a very impressive retelling of a story that keeps resurfacing in different cultures. As Benjamin Britten’s centenary approaches, it even manages to point us towards that composer’s Peter Grimes.
“I hear those voices that will not be drowned,” that disturbed fisherman incanted. The line could serve as a nice epigraph for Wright’s film.