Puffball Review

Puffball film still

Score

Nicolas Roeg barely seems bothered about pulling the whole together.

"It’s not exactly a child-friendly place, is it?" You don’t always expect words of truth from an estate agent but it’d be hard to put a spin on the house at the centre of the latest film from the director of Performance, Don’t Look Now and Bad Timing. And by the end of Nic Roeg’s Puffball, you’ve seen this site of a young child’s death turn into a new nightmare for the female architect determined to remodel it.

Of course, we all know that ambitious young city folk who move to the countryside deserve everything they get from spooky, backward locals. In Dan Weldon’s adaptation of mum Fay’s 1980 novel, housewife Liffey (Kelly Reilly) has been given a career, while the emphasis is very much on Liffey’s mystical neighbours: sullen, wide-eyed Audrey (Leona Igoe), her mad mother Mabs (Miranda Richardson) and utterly bonkers, ancient matriarch Molly (Rita Tushingham).

There’s a lot going on here for a small movie: pagan gods, witchcraft and some frankly startling internal shots (well, once you’ve directed one of the best sex scenes in cinema, in Don’t Look Now, where do you go from there?). Donald Sutherland puts in an unnecessary turn as Liffey’s former boss, while her globetrotting boyfriend would have found stronger characterisation in a mobile phone ad. Indeed, Roeg barely seems bothered about pulling the whole together.

But as the estate agent goes on to say: "I love how it fits together but sort of doesn’t."

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