In 2008, director Marc Price intrigued audiences and festival goers with his zombie movie Colin. Created for a staggering £40, Colin demonstrated Price’s ambition and directorial skill. Now, five years later, audiences are being exposed to Price’s follow up film, made on a slightly more substantial budget. Magpie tells the story of one man’s decision to face up to his failure as a father in the wake of his nine year old son’s tragic death. Here, all of those cliché Hollywood death bed scenes are contradicted by this story of how we cope when we were just that little too late. I was fortunate enough to witness not only a screening of Magpie but also an introduction from the cast and crew, followed by a question and answer session. Director Marc Price was joined by producers Helen Grace and Justin Hayles and actors Phil Deguara Craig Russell and Alastair Kirton. The reflections from the cast and crew gave the audience a detailed insight into the preparation, rehearsal methods and production process of the film. Emphasis was placed upon the importance of character and story as well as the use of improvisation and close connection between the cast. The thoughts of those involved in the film were charming and humorous, providing an enthusiastic introduction and conclusion to the screening of the film.

Magpie is reminiscent of earlier social realist dramas. The damaged characters are similar to those found in Ken Loach’s films. Combine these characters with the method and preparation of a Mike Leigh film and you begin to get a sense of what Magpie looks and feels like. As we watch the efforts of loyal friends, failing fathers and a mourning mother unravel, the characters begin to self destruct in their own separate ways. A tale of loss, failure and abandonment, Magpie is enchanting and engaging. The first half of the film moves at a delightful pace and a perfect balance of wit and woe is reached. As the plot develops, along with the characters, we find ourselves hoping for a resolution; a resolution for an unresolvable circumstance.

Phil Deguara’a striking performance cemented the characters and subtlety kept driving the story. Daisy Aitkens and Craig Russell worked perfectly together on screen and seemed to propel and compliment the other’s performance. Alastair Kirton’s performance gave the film a certain charm and likeability that also highlighted the flaws of the other characters. Magpie succeeds in telling a story that never revolves around one protagonist. It is the collective faults and struggles of each individual that makes this film so heartfelt and so believable.

Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.  

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