It’s Edinburgh Film Festival time again! Look out for reviews, interviews, and me complaining about the price of beer here. Seriously, £5.50! For a bottle of beer! I need to go lie down and try to come to terms with that. In the meantime you can read my review of this gem of a documentary.
Film festivals are a great place to see documentaries. There are loads of them, this year consisting of stories about dead singers, religious fundamentalism, communism, and Danish tabloid newspapers. However the most touching documentary of the festival is an intimate drama about a family trying to cope with some awful circumstances. The film I’m talking about is The Closer We Get and now I’m going to tell you why I liked it so much.
The movie is directed by Karen Guthrie, who is also the narrator and a central subject of it. We join Karen as she travels home to Largs, a seaside town in Scotland to care for her mother Ann who has recently had a stroke. While she helps out at home she also films her parents and siblings and we slowly build up a picture of a family with some major quirks, mainly created by Karen’s eccentric father – Ian Guthrie.
Ian becomes the ‘star’ of the film through his antics. He’s a force of nature, an Oxbridge educated accountant who can speak multiple languages and, as we find out during the film, is quite the ladies’ man. He also types reaaaalllly, reaaaalllly, slowly, a handicap I share, making me instantly identify with him. Ian is a huge character who blusters through life, always ready with a joke and a laugh. It’s Ian’s interactions with his children that reveal the most about the dynamic of this group of people.
It’s fascinating to get a glimpse of how these events affect the family with each new bombshell chipping away at Karen until she decides to confront her father which involves a trip to Africa and as much of an emotional outpouring as you would expect from an elderly Scottish patriarch. It’s this theme of the lack of emotional communication that frames the film and Karen Guthrie captures it without sliding into schmaltz, instead displaying an honest depiction of a family slowly going into meltdown.
The Closer We Get is a captivating peek into a familial situation shot beautifully by the director. It’s full of pathos, humour, and is tinged with sadness. The message I took from it was to actually talk to your family about the important things without bottling all of those emotions up. I’m Northern Irish so I probably won’t but it definitely made me think. If you get the chance to check out The Closer We Get then do so when it’s released in the UK later this year.
And just think – if Ian Guthrie had typed this review you would be reading it in 2022.
‘THE CLOSER WE GET has its European Premiere at EIFF on 18th & 20th June 2015 is at Open City Docs on 21st June http://thecloserweget.com/ and will be released in UK cinemas in September’