Festival

Film I don't know why I feel so disappointed because really, making a film about the Edinburgh Festival is an impossible task, for the simple reason that every one of us who's been there has had a different experience, and any script which tries to capture everything is going to fail. Just can't be done. Writer/director Annie Griffin has said that she pitched Festival as something akin to Altman's Nashville, and you can absolutely see the influence as the narrative takes in an epic sweep of characters at all levels of the fringe, from the household names to the one woman shows at nine in the morning. Which is problem one - Altman had three hours, Griffin gives us 107 minutes.

When the film works, it's excellent. I loved the story of the three Canadian performance artists, one of which becomes infatuated with the wife of the family whose flat they're renting out for the duration. I loved the girl running the one woman show about William Wordsworth's sister Dorothy. I loved the quiet battle against despair of the famous comic's agent, played with great poignancy by Raquel Cassidy. I loved the documentary style moments that took in the flavour and sounds of the festival creating a good sense of place It's these were the most evocative stories, the ones which I could identify with. A concentration on anyone of these characters, a filter of the story through their experience would have worked really well. By seperating out of the screen time amongst fifteen odd characters it feels weaker, unfocused.

What derailed the film and my enjoyment was the slow concentration of the story around the erzats Perrier award and the politics of the people and the voting. Somewhere in there someone makes an impassioned speech about how the festival used to be about Scandinavian dancing in the streets, but has slow become about an unfunny comedian winning an award. Which is ironic because that's exactly what happens in the film. Just when something glorious happens to the Canadians, we cut away to one comic chasing a bimbo around a hotel room or another having a post coital argument with a journalist and frankly it's just unpleasant. To take the Altman comparison further it's like taking Gosford Park and editing in large chunks of Pret A Porter.

Shame.

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