In the words of actress Tilda Swinton, David Mackenzie’s latest film is about “the crisis of the alienated intellectual” and “the whole question of spiritual loneliness”. It features Ewan McGregor in a fine performance as a barge-worker on the canals of Scotland circa 1960. We learn that it was not always thus: once he was an experimental writer who in frustration drowned his typewriter and ran off to work on the barge. As the film begins he discovers a woman’s body in the harbor, and the film comes to be about the ways in which his alienation affects the decisions he makes in response to the events that follow her death. Swinton gives an excellent performance as the barge-owner. Highly recommended. Based on the novel by Alexander Trocchi. Music by David Byrne.
--May 20, 2004