Ria (Juno Temple) finds herself in Blackpool after escaping the grips of her abusive pimp boyfriend Dex (Matt Ryan). As luck would have it, she comes across Joseph (Timothy Spall), a man attempting to come to terms with a big tragedy that has brought his world tumbling down. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and must work together to help one another overcome their difficulties. Things take a turn for the worst when Ria, who has been waiting for her sister to join her in Blackpool, finds herself face to face with Dex, a man hellbent on getting back what belongs to him.
Temple is utterly brilliant at playing against type, her turn as a cockney street urchin is a million miles away from her usual kookie free-spirited roles. Spall as ever, excels in a role he was born to play, his subtle yet deeply affecting performance is nothing short of genius. Despite its worthy contents and two truly fantastic performances from Temple and Spall, the film unfortunately lacks the depth and urgency it needs to be completely believable, instead it falls at the first hurdle and ends up looking like a made for TV drama.
Hadfield offers a fairly uncomplicated storyline, but is sadly let down by a cliche-ridden dialogue and the less than believable dramatic twists and turns. Blair does his best with a story which never really manages to fulfil its potential. Setting the action in Blackpool allows for a fantastic contrast between the flashbacks of Joseph’s old affluent suburban life, and the dark and gritty southern streets of Ria’s youth. The bright lights of Blackpool are cleverly used to symbolise a need for adventure and a wish to disappear from the complications of real life. As Ria and Joseph’s lives finally catch up with them, they must decide what actions to take in order to come out of the other side.
Some might find the need to make comparisons between this film and Neil Jordan’s brilliantly sedate Byzantium (2012) which is also set in a gritty english sea-side town, but where Jordan excels in presenting a highly intricate and complicated set of ideas, Away simply lacks in originality.
Despite the obvious misgivings, Away is a highly enjoyable watch which will leave its audience satisfied enough if not completely sold on the story. Ultimately, the cast more than makes up for the lack of originality, which on the whole is not a bad thing.
Away is released on May 12th.