Hold Back the Night rating 
2.5/5 Hold Back the Night


Reviewed by Oscar Black

PHIL Davies has been a stalwart of the British Gangster Film for the last twenty years, so it is a surprise that his directorial debut doesn't even pay lip service to the empty warehouses and flock wall-papered pubs of London's East End. Instead he follows the fortunes of two displaced teenagers running to the Scottish Highlands to get away from their families and the police.

After a lifetime of abuse, Charlene (ChristineTremarco) has escaped her incestuous father, abandoning her disabled sister. She meets Declan (Stuart Sinclair Blyth), a dog-on-a-rope New Age Traveller and card-carrying Animal Rights Activist who offers her shelter at the road protest camp he calls home.

The camp is broken up by hired thugs and police and in the riot that ensues Charlene breaks the skull of a security guard with Declan's Didgeridoo. Instinctively assisted with their escape by the terminally ill Vera (Sheila Hancock), this unlikely trio make their way to the Orkney Islands where Vera hopes to see the sunrise at the mystical Ring Of Brodgar before she dies.

The life of sexual abuse has predictably moulded Charlene in to the model of disfunctional teen embitterment. But while Declan and Vera are compelled to help pull her through her harrowing past she has a mouth best built for punching. At her vitriolic worst Charlene is one of the most annoying creations in recent British Cinema. Meanwhile, the occasionally fine performances from the three main characters are lost in the perfunctory and often painful script.

The plot is without surprises. By the time Charlene mellows, finds love and a measure of self-respect, as she always would, I was past caring. Last year's Perrier prize-winner Tommy Tiernan turns his back on a guaranteed Channel Four late night series to give a particularly wooden cameo performance as Irish Johnny...... The Highlands looked impressive.

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