I really enjoyed this film. I didnít really understand it, but it was compelling to watch. As soon as it was finished I went to the DVDs extras, hoping to find some enlightenment. There was a synopsis, but I got the impression the guy who wrote it didnít really get what was happening either.
Harry (John Hannah) is a man who thinks he is disfigured by a red birthmark on his face. I say he thinks deliberately because to be honest, itís more like a faint red burn than a true birthmark. It actually enhances the interest of Hannahís face, but he doesnít see it this way. Being gay, he mixes in a world of the young and beautiful and his encounters are painful, unsatisfactory gropings in the dark. Despairing that he will ever be touched in a loving way, he takes off, apparently driving aimlessly until he goes as far as he can go: ending up literally on a beach.
One night, in a storm, his car is covered by thick seaweed and becomes camouflaged. He seems to decide to live in it, living off soup and water he fetches back from a village some distance away.
His solitary existence is disturbed one day by three men, masked by stockings, who are rampaging across the beach. On investigation, he discovers a man buried up to his neck in the sand and left to die with a bucket over his head. I found this particularly disturbing, especially Harryís initial reaction to finding him. Instead of immediately digging him up, he goes back to his lair to heat up some soup, only allowing his guilt to provoke him to action when the tide begins to come in. Itís quite horrifying to think of such a death, and it was the first real puzzle of the film for me (after wondering why Harry didnít wear makeup to cover the mark!).
Flint (the rescued man) turns out to be a rough and ready oddball, squatting illegally in a remote croft. He invites Harry to stay.
One of the reasons I was reluctant to give this film a go was that I knew it stared Bernard Hill. Heís a great actor, but I couldnít really see him (didnít want to) doing gay with John Hannah. After way too much Brian Kinney, itís very hard to switch back to reality and see flab and blue-white English skin, bad teeth and hairiness. However, Iím very glad I overcame my prejudices. Hill is excellent as the eccentric Flint. He postures, doing weird, unmentionable things (oh, go on then, Iíll mention one: he eats a dead mouse which heís fished out of the front of his boxer shorts) to get Harry to laugh. And this posturing is really sexy. Harry certainly finds it so. For Harry is not big on the laughs. Heís introverted to the point of being almost suicidal with the need to be loved. It doesnít help that he almost instantly falls for this bigger than life character Flint. Itís only when they have a fight and Harry goes back to his car on the beach, does Flint come to realise that he has similar feelings for Harry. He invites him back for dinner and after soup offers him a far more filling dessert.
I loved the sex scene that followed. Itís highly charged and full of skin and touch, without either man compromising himself on screen. The cinematography is amazing: lightning illuminating them, wind billowing a sheet above them as they explore.
I recommend giving this one a go. Itís quite unique. Despite leaving many unanswered questions, and having no real conclusion (you can pretty much make up your own), itís a satisfying watch with excellent performances from the two leads.
is afraid heíll die without ever being touched. Filled with longing he
goes to a gay bar, and after downing a pint for courage inserts himself
into a sexy 3-way in the backroom. Then the lights go up and Harry flees
like a frightened rabbit. Not because heís conflicted about being gay.
Harry has a port wine birthmark covering one side of his face, in the
shape of Madagascar. Terrified of rejection he doesnít give the gay couple
in the bar a chance to react. That the blemish isnít exactly disfiguring
isnít the point: Harry, played by sexy Scot John Hannah, is beautiful
but doesnít know it, is never going to believe it because awkward and
emotionally crippled, he doesnít allow anyone to get close. Starved of
intimacy, he rejects a world he fears will reject him.