Author’s Note: Although my usual thing around here is reviewing American Hollywood films from the 1930s-1950s, today’s post is a review of a new British indie that deserves more recognition.
I may—or may not—make a habit of dropping one of these in every so often. But fear not, the bulk of my reviews will remain about films that were made during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
If you’re used to watching big budget Hollywood affairs and slickly produced prestige television shows (as I am), the first thing you must do when watching a low-budget film is adjust your expectations.
By that I mean you’re not going to see over-the-top special effects, larger than life movie stars with blindingly white teeth, and sets filled with Apple products as props.
But the glitz and glamour of Hollywood is not necessary when making a film, and at times it gets in the way of the only thing that matters—telling a story that stays with the viewer.
Marooned Awakening has a story to tell, one that feels both familiar and novel.
Alex (Cameron Ashplant) is an aspiring young journalist living on the British island of Guernsey. He has a strained relationship with his father (Murray McArthur), a fisherman who is mystified by his son’s literary ambitions and hurt that he doesn’t want to join him in the fishing business.
It’s clear the relationship, though likely never strong, has been pushed to the breaking point by the death of Alex’s mother, a death perhaps more sinister than initially believed.
Before starting his job on the mainland, Alex finds a bloody knife on a beach and is determined to solve this mystery before he leaves the island for good.
The film alternates between three worlds—one depicts Alex’s reality on Guernsey. The second is a shadowy figure in a hospital bed that may or may not be a flashback of Alex’s mother. And the third is a black-and-white dream world where Alex is on a beach tormented by the new murder he is trying to solve.
The film is at its best when exploring the father-son relationship—it’s a powerful illustration of the cliché that no one can hurt us like the ones we love the most. Alex’s desire to leave the island and begin his life as a journalist on the mainland is understandable to the audience—and even healthy—but his father takes it as a slap in the face.
Their arguments escalate to an uncomfortable degree—I couldn’t help but feel the father’s desire to keep his son with him had reached a degree of selfishness that bordered on despicable. On the other hand, this was a man who had done a lifetime’s worth of backbreaking work to build a good life for his wife and son, and he is on the verge of losing them both.
But the father’s unwillingness to let go ultimately ends in violence.
With a crisp 75 minute runtime, Marooned Awakening doesn’t overstay its welcome, and is worth a look on a rainy afternoon when you’re in the mood to brood and ponder a bit.
I look forward to seeing what director Musaab Mustafa comes up with next.
Currently available to stream in the U.S. for a few bucks on Amazon Prime.
Thank you to Musaab Mustafa for access.
You got access from the actual director? That’s cool. This sounds intriguing, will have a look for it.
Pretty cool, right? He asked if I’d take a look to review, and I was happy to oblige……..
Very clear, concise review. It concerns me that there’s no mechanism for indie films to get seen these days; the best we can do it review them and hope someone notices…
It’s true. I first found it through your site….you’re doing good work over there to get the word out!
Always good to see info on “art/indie film” releases these days, which are showing up on fewer and fewer screens, can get lost on streaming services, etc. Watched the trailer…and it looks like a psychological journey worth taking.
Completely agree. The bad news is it’s harder to keep track of these films when they don’t show up on the big screen, as you say. The good news is that if you know they exisit, they’re almost always available to stream somewhere!