Fossil (2014)

Posted: July 3, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Carla Juri spielt die blutjunge französische Freundin des amerikanischen Tunichtguts «Richard», gespielt vom britischen Sschauspieler Grant Masters.

Paul and Camilla (John Sackville and Edith Bukovics) hire a gite in the south of France, seemingly in a last ditch attempt to rekindle a spark long since gone. Tensions build between the two until they find a mysterious couple (Grant Masters and Carla Juri) cavorting in their pool. 

“Fossil” is a British psycho-drama from fledgling production company Blackwall Films, written and directed by first timer Alex Walker. It is a credit to all involved how well executed everything is given the minuscule budget they had to play with.

The performances are strong, albeit in a way that reeks of British television drama from the 1980s. The couple at the film’s centre have the standard RP drama school accents, while the American and French characters are essentially timeless stereotypes, exemplars of British perception of those two races. Masters does pull off a respectable low-key Nicholson impression, something you sense was a great party trick that has now borne fruit; while Carla Juri is clearly a performer with a genuine flighty charm who we will likely be seeing a lot more of based on her promising turn here as the naive but deceptively deep Julie.

The film does have a lovely picturesque look, making good use of it’s Dordogne setting and contrasting it with the claustrophobic confines of the gite the couples are staying in. The intent was likely to blend the feel of French New-Wave cinema with traditional buttoned-down British drama, a combination that shouldn’t really work, but ultimately scrapes by due to the commitment of those involved.

For all the positives, it is incredibly hard to get away from how “middle-class” everything feels, essentially just the “first world problems” meme writ large. It is all so twee and quaint, you imagine it being cooked up over a glass of fine wine on a family holiday, such is it’s lack of edge.

As the film is primarily a drama, it is perhaps churlish to say that it takes a while to get going, as the long build-up is precisely the point. While the characters are believable, the dialogue between them lacks bite, something that makes it hard to care too much about their fates. While not every four-hander can be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, the interplay between the quartet really could have done with something to make it crackle.

The film is likely to be best remembered for a final third twist that is somewhat surprising, not for the explosion of violence that the film always threatened, but for the way in which it serves perfectly as an antidote to the majority of “home invasion” thrillers; a change of direction that is a pleasant surprise. However, it is all too neat and tidy in execution, squared away far too quickly and easily with scant regard for the possibilities the premise holds. For a film so rooted in relationships, it glosses over the shift in dynamic in surprisingly off-hand fashion, seeming to lose it’s focus as it attempts to quickly wrap everything up and stick a bow on it.

“Fossil” is a laudable attempt at a different kind of thriller, professionally executed in a manner that belies it’s incredibly tight budget. It is still relatively dull at times, lacking the zest and bite possessed by the best films of it’s ilk. While it may come a pleasant surprise if caught by accident late night on television, it is sadly not interesting enough to recommend actively seeking out.

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