Skip to main content

He’s a yobbo. A clever yobbo.

The Owl Service
Episode Six

The helpful recap establishes that Nancy was gifted the plates by Bertram (if this was stated earlier, I missed it). Should the adult themes of the serial have failed induce parental qualms over its suitability, then the strong language of this episode probably decided the case. Gwyn tells Nancy, “Drop dead, you miserable cow!” to which she replies “Is that what they teach you at the grammar?” Later he’s even more disrespectful, referring to Alison’s mother as a “Dirty minded bitch!” It’s enough to make you choke on your Rich Tea! This might be construed as evidence enough that he is the “yob” Roger now refers to him as. 



The threats of an existence behind the counter at the Co-op are ever present as Nancy’s now had her fill and given 48 hours notice (due to Clive harping on about the locked stable door). To be honest, and I know it’s a central theme, the class stuff does get a bit repetitive. At times a show not tell approach might be more effective; there’s an awful lot of telling going on, right down to Gwyn’s attempt to flee the valley at the climax, scrambling up a slate hill with “I told you, he’s a yob” echoing through his mind.


Much of this episode’s impact comes from Roger being a frightful stinker to Gwyn. His disgust at the latter crying on the stairs is another moment where Wallis successfully carries across the emotions of the previous episode. He refers to Gwyn’s public display as “absolutely embarrassing”. Because no one saw him blubbing the previous week, he’s able to lie to Alison that he hasn’t shed tears since he was a child. Their argument effectively character assassinates each other’s parent. She snobbily notes his “rough diamond dad” and he lays into her “bank book mum”. 



Roger has now retreated so much from the unexplained phenomena theory that he refers to earlier events as a “put-up job”. And, like any teenager on the defensive, he picks on Gwyn’s most painful insecurity and launches an offensive; his class. He’s learnt to be a horrible snob from his father, of course, and with the lines now drawn he’s free (after tentatively showing friendship for Gwyn in the early episodes) to mock him.


RogerHe’s not one of us. He never will be. He’s a yobbo. A clever yobbo.

He considers that the house will be better without “those two weirdos” and dismisses Gwyn’s future life with “He’ll become a teacher or something equally wet”. But again, these are his own insecurities coming out; he has a job lined up in the family firm that serves no vocational purpose. As Alison says, he should become a photographer (but he has a thousand and one reasons why he would fail at it). Later, he brings up the elocution lessons, which Alison mentioned sympathetically, to ridicule Gwyn (“How now, brown cow”). 



And there he is again, framed between Alison and Gwyn. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, that Wallis is a much better cad than Holden is a wayward hero. Cruel as Roger is, Gwyn comes off with so little nuance that we don’t really feel for him; or not nearly enough. And the streak of wit Wallis lends Roger occasionally lights up the screen. He does a great comedy accent, and his “Or is it the very nerve centre of the illicit Welsh whisky trade look you” is very funny, whatever Alison says to the contrary.


Alison is found blowing in the wind (“I’m one person for mummy and another with you. I can’t argue”) but in spite of generally coming across as more sympathetic (less judgemental) than Roger and Gwyn her shallowness is highlighted when she admits why she stopped meeting Gwyn (the threat of leaving the choir and the tennis club).


Plummer pulls some interesting visual choices in the scene where Gwyn comes across Alison sketching. Her reaction is from his point of view, lending the proceedings a threatening quality. Later he pulls a reverse of this, with Alison putting her hand in front of her (the camera’s) face when she asks Gwyn to “stop looking at me like that!


After the meandering narrative of the last two episodes, this one is blessed with meaty dramatic fireworks. The fantasy element remains subdued, even though Huw has a more substantial role. He continues to preside over the re-enactment of the legend, distracting Clive from discovering Gwyn and Alison (“Do you like my bonny-fire?”), leading Clive to reminisce over his working class roots (baking potatoes over an open fire).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

I don’t think you will see President Pierce again.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
(SPOILERS) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and other tall tales of the American frontier is the title of "the book" from which the Coen brothers' latest derives, and so announces itself as fiction up front as heavily as Fargo purported to be based on a true story. In the world of the portmanteau western – has there even been one before? – theme and content aren't really all that distinct from the more familiar horror collection, and as such, these six tales rely on sudden twists or reveals, most of them revolving around death. And inevitably with the anthology, some tall tales are stronger than other tall tales, the former dutifully taking up the slack.

Can you float through the air when you smell a delicious pie?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
(SPOILERS) Ironically, given the source material, think I probably fell into the category of many who weren't overly disposed to give this big screen Spider-Man a go on the grounds that it was an animation. After all, if it wasn’t "good enough" for live-action, why should I give it my time? Not even Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's pedigree wholly persuaded me; they'd had their stumble of late, although admittedly in that live-action arena. As such, it was only the near-unanimous critics' approval that swayed me, suggesting I'd have been missing out. They – not always the most reliable arbiters of such populist fare, which made the vote of confidence all the more notable – were right. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only a first-rate Spider-Man movie, it's a fresh, playful and (perhaps) surprisingly heartfelt origins story.

You look like an angry lizard!

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
(SPOILERS) I can quite see a Queen fan begrudging this latest musical biopic for failing to adhere to the facts of their illustrious career – but then, what biopic does steer a straight and true course? – making it ironic that they're the main fuel for Bohemian Rhapsody's box office success. Most other criticisms – and they're legitimate, on the whole – fall away in the face of a hugely charismatic star turn from Rami Malek as the band's frontman. He's the difference between a standard-issue, episodic, join-the-dots narrative and one that occasionally touches greatness, and most importantly, carries emotional heft.

I'm a sort of travelling time expert.

Doctor Who Season 12 – Worst to Best
Season 12 isn’t the best season of Doctor Who by any means, but it’s rightly recognised as one of the most iconic, and it’s easily one of the most watchable. Not so much for its returning roster of monsters – arguably, only one of them is in finest of fettle – as its line-up of TARDIS crew members. Who may be fellow travellers, but they definitely aren’t “mates”. Thank goodness. Its popularity – and the small matters of it being the earliest season held in its entirety in original broadcast form, and being quite short – make it easy to see why it was picked for the first Blu-ray boxset.

Must the duck be here?

The Favourite (2018)
(SPOILERS) In my review of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, I suggested The Favourite might be a Yorgos Lanthimos movie for those who don’t like Yorgos Lanthimos movies. At least, that’s what I’d heard. And certainly, it’s more accessible than either of his previous pictures, the first two thirds resembling a kind of Carry On Up the Greenaway, but despite these broader, more slapstick elements and abundant caustic humour, there’s a prevailing detachment on the part of the director, a distancing oversight that rather suggests he doesn’t feel very much for his subjects, no matter how much they emote, suffer or connive. Or pratfall.

There's something wrong with the sky.

Hold the Dark (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hold the Dark, an adaptation of William Giraldi's 2014 novel, is big on atmosphere, as you'd expect from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and actor-now-director (I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore) pal Macon Blair (furnishing the screenplay and appearing in one scene), but contrastingly low on satisfying resolutions. Being wilfully oblique can be a winner if you’re entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but the effect here is rather that it’s "for the sake of it" than purposeful.

I don’t know if what is happening is fair, but it’s the only thing I can think of that’s close to justice.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
(SPOILERS) I think I knew I wasn’t going to like The Killing of a Sacred Deer in the first five minutes. And that was without the unedifying sight of open-heart surgery that takes up the first four. Yorgos Lanthimos is something of a Marmite director, and my responses to this and his previous The Lobster (which I merely thought was “okay” after exhausting its thin premise) haven’t induced me to check out his earlier work. Of course, he has now come out with a film that, reputedly, even his naysayers will like, awards-darling The Favourite