Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Claire Forlani, Ciarán Hinds, Jamie Sives, Maurice Roëves, Ewen Bremner, Ruth Milne, John Paul Lawler, Lucy Holt
Written by: David Mackenzie, Ed Whitmore, based on a novel by Peter Jinks
Directed by: David Mackenzie
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language
Running Time: 95
Date: 02/16/2007

Mister Foe (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mother Issues

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

An intelligent, confused young man tries to find his place in a class-conscious world and discover love at the same time. Didn't I review this coming-of-age picture back in the spring when it was called Charlie Bartlett? Or last year when it was called Fierce People? Nope. This is a brand-new coming-of-age picture, and despite mature direction by David Mackenzie (Young Adam) it comes across exactly like every other coming-of-age movie. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) plays Hallam Foe, who misses his dearly departed mother and blames his beautiful stepmom (Claire Forlani) for her death. He decides to head for the big city where he coincidentally spots a woman (Sophia Myles, from Art School Confidential) who is a dead ringer for his mom. It turns out she's an HR person for a hotel, and she (improbably) gives him a job. They get to know one another; Hallam works out his mother issues with her, and she (somehow) lets him. Despite all this obvious Freudian stuff (Hallam sleeping with his stepmom and his mom lookalike), Mackenzie keeps Mister Foe at a timid distance with its "movie" sheen. Like most coming-of-age movies, it never lets real life come within touching distance, nor does it take the plunge into pure fantasy. It's all safely, halfway done. For example, there's the fact that Hallam is basically homeless for half the movie, and yet we never see any details of his struggle or his search for living conditions. He usually, magically, finds lovely, empty lofts in which to sleep with no trouble. CiarĂ¡n Hinds co-stars as Hallam's dad, and Ewen Bremner is allowed a couple of funny lines as Hallam's co-worker.

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