Pollyanna McIntosh: Out of this world

Raised in Colombia and Portugal, amongst other places, Pollyanna McIntosh is a true child of the world – but she also resolutely Scottish and proud of it

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 00:00

The fabulously named Pollyanna McIntosh is back in her hometown for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. We say hometown, but Pollyanna is, in fact, from a great many places. She spent years in Portugal and Colombia as a child. When she was just 16, she moved to London and became a model. She currently spends most of her time in Los Angeles. Yet she still sounds unmistakably Scottish. There is not a trace of up-speak or of softened consonants in her clipped voice. Well done, her.

“Oh, thank you,” she says. “I am glad that you said that. It depends whether I am in Edinburgh though. If you met me in London, you might be appalled at how English I sounded.”

There has been more globetrotting over the last year or so. This week, McIntosh turns up in Brendan Muldowney’s very impressive Love Eternal. Awarded best Irish film by the Dublin Film Critics Circle at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, the picture follows a seriously depressed man as he seeks partners for suicide pact. He eventually ends up in the company of a young woman who has recently lost a child. Based on a Japanese novel by Kei Ôishi, the film is unsettling, moving and quite original.

A dark woman with firm, chiselled features, McIntosh owns the last third of the film. Somehow or other, despite the depths of her despair, her character becomes the eyes and ears of the audience.

“Yes. Despite the fact that she’s suicidal,” she says. “I must admit it was a bit of a grim business. But, at the same time, she is so outwardly positive. Carrying around that feeling was sometimes very saddening. You have to do your best impression of what it must be like to carry around that weight. That’s hard enough as a pretentious actress. It must be unimaginable in real life.”

Like quite a few recent Irish films, Love Eternal is an international co-production and, as a result, the film seems to take place in a spooky nowhere. Certain locations are recognisably Irish. Others seem distinctly continental (as we used to say). The effect adds to the dislocation at the movie’s heart.

“It was an Irish-Luxembourg production,” McIntosh explains. “So we shot in Cobh and we also shot in these lovely locations in Luxembourg. It’s funny. When I told people I was shooting in Luxembourg, they all said: ‘Oh great. You can go to France or Germany. ’ But I wanted to see Luxembourg.”

I think we’ve all said that at some point in our lives. Who doesn’t want to visit the country that gave us Jean-Claude Juncker?

“Actually, I did spend a weekend in Paris when I was there,” she says. “But Luxembourg was lovely. It was sort of an In Bruges experience: it’s beautiful, but small. Though there were fewer people falling off large towers than there were in In Bruges.”