(2007) dir. David Mackenzie
viewed: 10/08/08 at Opera Plaza Cinemas, SF, CA
Mister Foe is the American release title for the Scottish film, Hallam Foe, which is, as I’ve read before, a much better title for this film, simply because it is the name of the primary character. Adding “Mister”, I suppose makes it a little more recognizeable as a person name to Americans not familiar with the name Hallam, nor familiar with the surname Foe. Whatever.
What started out to feel a bit like a Scottish-style independent oddball romantic-comedy-drama, potentially contrasted with Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Juno (2007), even with an animated title sequence like the latter and featuring a low-key off-beat soundtrack of softly alt-pop tunes. But really, Foe is much more dark at its core and a bit more “realistic” with its less-than-perfect ending.
Hallam Foe is a seventeen year-old voyuer, with an oedipal fix which includes wearing his dead mother’s make-up, jewelry, and dresses. Clearly acting out against his well-to-do architecht father and his sexy step-mother, Hallam is sent from the country to Glasgow, where he finds a doppelganger of his mother, the lovely Sophia Myles, who he stalks, spies on, and ends up becoming employed by in the hotel that she works at. At one point, drunkenly, she tells Hallam that, “I like creepy guys.” A match made in heaven.
Actually, it’s not panderingly nicey-nicey like Juno and Lars, but it’s not entirely as harsh as reality can be. What is creepier anyways? A man who treats an online-ordered sex doll as a real woman or a peeping tom who is in love with his mother?
Hallam is played by Jamie Bell who I had last seen as a young boy in Billy Elliot (2000), another young boy with a yen for things that don’t match societal norms.
Glasgow is nicely captured here visually, as seen from the rooftops and clocktowers that Hallam finds himself in as he peeks in windows. It’s an under-represented city in cinema, I would say, yet quite striking in its own way.
Mister Foe is not a bad coming of age film. I know people who will probably like it. And I did, though not perhaps as much as others might.