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EDINBURGH — Morag McKinnon’s “Donkeys” is the second of a trilogy planned by Denmark’s Zentropa and Glasgow’s Sigma Films that began with Andrea Arnold’s Festival de Cannes Jury Prize-winning “Red Road” in 2006.
The idea is to feature actors playing the same characters but not necessarily with the same settings or back-stories. Whether anyone beyond keen film buffs will recall the first one except for Kate Dickie’s outstanding performance as a CCTV operator is open to question.
Mordant humor helps move along a plot that involves Dickie as the disaffected daughter of a selfish and prickly old man named Albert (played by James Cosmo) whose intimations of mortality cause him to seek reconciliation with people he’s treated badly or ignored all his life.
The way he goes about it is not enough to sustain interest in characters that create no real spark of interest, and the film lacks the earlier production’s skilful imagery. The festival circuit appears to be the limit of the film’s ambitions.
The story deals with the consequences of Albert’s history of careless relationships with women and his friends, and his attempts to make amends. Mostly, it’s about his willingness to take advantage of a lifelong pal (Brian Pettifer) by exploiting his witless generosity and counting on him to clean up his mess.
The players do their best but it’s an uphill struggle to make anything lasting out of dull and forgettable characters.
Venue: Edinburgh International Film Festival
Cast: James Cosmo, Brian Pettifer, Martin Compston, Kate Dickie
Director: Morag McKinnon
Screenwriter: Colin McLaren
Director of Photography: Lol Crawley
Production designer: Mark Leese
Costume designer: Anna Lau
Editor: Colin Monie
No rating, 78 minutes
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