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True North


Stars: Martin Compston, Peter Mullan, Gary Lewis, Hark Bohm, Angel Li, Steven Robertson, Anna Breuer, Pat Kiernan

Director: Steve Hudson

This grim but absorbing British drama-thriller is worth seeking out - if you can find it, as release will probably be limited. But take your sea sickness pills along for its story of the crew of a battered Scottish trawler who, strapped for cash, decide to ferry illegal immigrants across a stormy stretch of the North Sea from the continent to Scotland.

Instigator of the scheme is the skipper's son (Compston, from Sweet Sixteen and Red Road), who accepts a hefty commission from a shady Euro wheeler-dealer (Bohm) without letting his dad (Lewis, the father from Billy Elliot) in on the scheme.

Debutant director Hudson breaks up the main (no pun intended) action a bit too much, but, even so, his takes aboard the trawler (with the Irish Sea standing in for its Scottish counterpart) are long enough for every lurch and wave to give many the collywobbles.

Compston and Lewis give solid showings, with outstanding support from Li, as a 12-year-old refugee who becomes detached from her fellow fugitives, and Mullan, as the grizzled deckhand whose bluff exterior and brothel cavorting conceals something of a yellow streak down his back.

Scottish brogues and the howling wind sometimes make the dialogue difficult to follow, but impending tragedy weaves its own web of suspense - except for those put off by such bleak and downbeat drama.

David Quinlan

Ireland/Germany/UK 2006. UK Distributor: Cinefilm. Colour.
96 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Sep 2007