Opening the Edinburgh International Film Festival is a homegrown film, Silent Roar, set on the Isle of Lewis. It’s also Scottish director and BAFTA nominee Johnny Barrington’s feature debut.
The island is arguably one of the most beautiful places Scotland has to offer and Silent Roar certainly didn’t waste the location. The film, shot on 16mm, rightfully flaunts the phenomenal scenery of the Outer Hebrides whilst telling a story just as achingly beautiful.
How was it?
Dondo (Louis McCartney), a charmingly bizarre boy, spends his days surfing and questioning his father’s (Tip Cullen) disappearance at sea. Grasping for answers, the arrival of a nutty new minister (Mark Lockyer) has Dondo trying religion in an unusual and somewhat desperate way.
Dondo’s newfound faith turns the speculations about his father into delusions and paranoia. Visions and voices, as silly as they are sinister, control Dondo’s actions in his quest to find his father.
Sas (Ella Lily Hyland), his high school friend and crush, humours Dondo’s beliefs. This leads to her unwittingly encouraging Dondo’s spiralling mental state as he struggles to grieve his father.
McCartney does an excellent job of making Dondo equal parts funny, kind, and pitiful. Perhaps only noticeable to Scottish ears, the actor’s Irish accent shone through in more than a few moments. However, Dondo being a rather strange boy meant it was excusable to have a strange accent.
Lockyer and Hyland both excelled as their respective characters. They were even more powerful when interacting with each other, butting their fiery heads trying to help Dondo in their respective ways.
The film had its tranquil and turbulent moments, much like the ocean around them. Silent Roar was at it’s strongest when it played into its darker themes, showing severity more than the silliness. Although, the moments of silliness naturally made the heavier moments more poignant.
Silent Roar’s voice wasn’t as quiet as the title implies. Indeed, the beautiful scenery of the Isle of Lewis and Hannah Peel’s (Game of Thrones) score created an experience so appealing to the senses it was impossible to drown out. You become engrossed in the screen.
Silent Roar is more a story of grief and community than one of coming-of-age. Dondo may be a teenager and literally coming of age, but this is a story enjoyable for all ages. It’s absolutely worth seeing, if not just to admire the wonderful shots of the Isle of Lewis.
Featured Image Credit: Screen Scotland