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Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle rating 
3.5/5 Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle

   

Reviewed by Rebort

The Gaelic language in Scotland looked doomed to slip away until, in recent years, government money started flowing into cultural initiatives aimed at revitalising and spreading the language. It's a sign of Gaeldom's growing confidence that a feature film of this calibre is being made.

The "inaccessible pinnacle" is a sharp, rocky summit in Skye, which stands as a metaphor for a young Gael's challenge to come to terms with the death of his parents and reconcile himself with his dying Gaelic-speaking grandfather (a pivotal role by Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul) who raised him and tried to instill in him a pride for his culture.

While death always seems to menace the proceedings - the parents death, the grandfather's imminent death, a language that is in danger of dying - Seachd has a lightness of touch and humour. The film, combines a pleasingly, unsentimental view of contemporary highland culture with a series of stories from romantic folklore narrated by the grandfather to his grandchildren.

Grandad's tales are a major component of the film, meaning the action slips back and forth from the main story to the story-within-a-story. Initially, it's a bit jarring, but as you get used to it you appreciate the effect, especially as director Simon Miller uses it with the kind of intelligence that turns what might have been a weakness into a strength. The film also takes place in two time frames - Aonhgas as boy taken under his granddad's wing and then as a young man meeting his dying grandfather in a hospital in Skye.

The skill of the filmmakers matches their ambition, resulting in a visually arresting and poetic work that will have a cross-generational appeal. Seachd was made with a limited budget, meaning that many of the young cast were non-professional. This is barely noticeable thanks largely to Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul, whose central, engaging performance as the Gaelic granddad carries the viewer through to the warm-hearted conclusion.

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