Carol Morley's hotel drama is let down by a serious lack of a compelling story.
It’s winter, fog hangs in the air and holiday spirit is noticeable by its absence. Elly (Maxine Peake) is a mysterious redhead who wants to be alone. Wendy (Marjorie Yates) thumps around her room with a noose. Two teenagers (Joe Dempsie and Nichola Burley) arrive for a less-than-romantic rendezvous. Only Glen (Paul Hilton), an aspiring guitarist, cheerfully invents songs and remains buoyed by a canine-like faith in future appreciation.
The back stories of each guest do acknowledge the preoccupations of modern life, issues ranging from money, fame, spiked drinks and abortion. Yet, however interesting each issue may be, when delivered as matter-of-fact dialogue within the flowery walls of the hotel, its power to shock quickly withers. In order to compensate, the guests spill out revelation after revelation to the point of farce.
It doesn’t help that the character at the heart of the plot, Elly, hardly utters a word for the first half of the film. "You’ve got this amazing energy around you," Glen tells her, but it’s a lie. The camera hangs back and allows them mumble.
Apart from the English accents and a red telephone box, Edge seems refreshingly disconnected from the the obvious reference points of British cinema. An early shot of the cliffs covered with snow could be an outtake from a nature doc like Frozen Planet. Where drama does survive, it is thanks to the skill of the actors.
Yates is convincing as Wendy, succeeding in making the old woman both abrasive and pitiful. The reserved young Polish cleaner Agata (Anna Wendzikowska) is also a good foil.
Burley, who recently played Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights, manages to transcend her cover girl looks and inject some madness into her role as a teenager bent on revenge. The moment where she whips out a blow torch and uses it to transform a coat hanger into a branding iron is far more original than the film’s official climax.
An opportunity to see another film by Carol Morley after the brilliant Dreams of a Life.
There’s a reason nobody talked about this one. What’s on the telly?
A film with a brooding atmosphere, but a compelling story is MIA.