Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, Emily Mortimer
Cast Ewan McGregor as a lowlife lothario and throw in a few graphic sex scenes and you’re guaranteed box office success. But set the film on a coal barge in 1950s Glasgow and you’re sure to arouse nothing more than disappointment in the average cinema-goer.
Ewan is young Adam, the randy coal-shoveller who stokes more than he bargains for in this low-budget Scottish film. Swinton and Mullan are the married couple who employ him to work on their canal barge. McGregor and Swinton are soon indulging in some illicit towpath romps while Mullan is off sinking pints with the lads. Unable to contain their passion, the pair are soon discovered by the cuckolded hubby who, with narry a punch thrown, leaves them to it.
Unable to contain his wanton ways, however, Adam is soon indulging in some more extra-curricular activity with a collection of middle-aged women. And all the while there’s an unfolding flashback storyline involving an even younger Adam and a dead ex-girlfriend (Mortimer).
The film is as downbeat as it sounds with dreary post-war Glasgow serving as its relentlessly repressive backdrop. No doubt there’s a place for this type of thoughtful, challenging and atmospheric film, and McGregor should be applauded for staying true to his roots and supporting his country’s film industry.
Cinefiles may well love the film but fans of the Scottish superstar should approach his latest piece of work with caution; or they’ll be disappointed.