A Remote Relationship
Life at her father's remote petrol station in the Scottish highlands is the only life seventeen year old Shell (Chloe Pirrie) has known. When her mother left when she was just a small child her reclusive father Pete (Joseph Mawle) has cared and educated her as best as he could and then as Shell has grown up she has become a sort of surrogate housewife, doing the cooking and cleaning, working in the petrol station whilst also caring for her father when ever he has one of his seizures. Shell's only contact with the outside world are the customers who come in with the regulars becoming her friends. But times are a changing and there is a wide world for Shell to discover and her father knows it as well as knowing that what they have is wrong and stopping Shell from living her life.
First up and "Shell" is not going to be for everyone, it is a slow movie, a look at life for a father and daughter in an isolated area and how the life they have built has affected them. It is a movie where you need to read between the lines and work out the characters and make judgements on their relationship. As such for anyone who likes action, comedy, romance, obvious drama and those things which make up mainstream movies are likely to be disappointed.
But "Shell" is interesting because it throws us into this very specific microcosm of life in this isolated location and serves up this unique relationship between a father and daughter where in some ways the daughter has become her father's wife. I don't mean incestuously, although some things are suggested, but she cares for him in a way a wife would having had to partly due to his medical condition but mostly because of it being just the two of them. At the same time we also see how the father relates to his daughter and the deep understanding that their unique father daughter relationship is not good because it is holding her back. It is fascinating and you do wonder how this is going to play out as Pete knows his daughter is a woman and will start to feel the lure of the outside world but also knows that whilst she is grounded is also ill equipped for that sort of life having become his quasi-wife.
Alongside this we also get life in the remote locations with a variety of impact scenes which take you aback such as the late night call from a motorist who has hit a dear and we not only see Pete slit the suffering animals throat but the next day carve it up for meat. That is not the only impact scene and something as every day as a scene of Shell going to the toilet has a strange power to it.
In fairness "Shell" is hard going as it is slow and requires your full attention but it is worth it because it is so fascinating. And whilst Scott Graham deserves praise for delivering a movie which involves the audience it is Chloe Pirrie who you will remember with a tough but sensitive performance. Maybe it is the bleakness of the landscape combined with Graham's cold imagery but Pirrie's performance reminded me of Jennifer Lawrence's performance in "Winter's Bone".
What this all boils down to is that "Shell" is a fascinating movie and one despite its slowness draws you in to the situation between a father and daughter in their remote home. And trust me after watching it you will remember the name Chloe Pirrie as she delivers a fantastic performance.