Jamie Adams’ third feature film sees us follow two sisters, Claire (Dolly Wells) and Lisa (Alice Lowe), who steal the identities of famous fictional poets The Wilding Sisters. To set this up they initially try to steal a JCB but drive off scared, then run out of petrol and end up nabbing the car of the poets and, in turn, take on their identity to stay out of trouble. The result is that they end up living the lie, to extremes, at a Poetry Retreat in Wales.
When they join up with the small group of devoted poets, they’re welcomed at the remote event with loving (and excited) arms and soon learn this competition could win them some money. With this incentive, they’re stimulated to dive right into their new personalities without a second thought. After a few hitches, which includes some brilliantly bad beat poetry, they start to mix with their fellow (real) poets after a hike and camping trip out on the open Welsh moors.
This natural comedy-drama is all about the wealth of cleverness that Alice Lowe and Dolly Wells bring to the screen. Director Adams chooses to cut into their facial expressions and reactions to specific situations and, with it, we end up feeling a part of their decisions. What’s particularly interesting about their relationship is even though they’re not who they say they are, you end up forgetting the farcical nature because they’re convincing con artists. With that in mind, it’s fair to say we’re taken along on the con as well but it’s mightily enjoyable.
The co-starring cast are also a vital part of proceedings and all take us into their individual moments of uniqueness. While Tom Cullen’s Richard is a key member of the narrative, and also grows in confidence as the film progresses, debutant Rosa Robson’s Louise is equally impressive, even if purposefully somewhat unhinged. But the two dynamic parts that stand out for me is Richard Elis as Gareth and Laura Patch as Stacey. These two are more than just an accompanying role to the main story as their natural chemistry and humour offer up a significant part to events.
While some independent film makers try and throw in all their intentions quickly, writer and director Adams lets the story unravel naturally and this is steadily discovered with a vast array of charm and intelligence. The key is lead actors Lowe and Wells, although different in personality, who bring a wealth of warmth to their distinctive individuals and, most importantly, their characters make Black Mountain Poets come to life.
4/5 – Black Mountain Poets is released in UK cinemas on 1 April.
Review by Dan Bullock, March 2016. Originally posted on The Holllywood News… and here’s my ode:
Like a silhouette at sunset; Black Mountain Poets sketches out who we are
Striving for a goal; probing out an individual star
This lo-fi indie film explores the deeper meaning behind our actions
As Alice Lowe and Dolly Wells slowly break down the disliked math-related fractions.
…Of everyday life.