Everybody should go and see Frozen this weekend: an independent British film, featuring the wonderful Shirley “Moaning Myrtle out of Harry Potter” Henderson in her first leading role, which has finally secured a limited UK release (check here for screening details).
Last night, at a special preview screening, we met Ms. Henderson, who – along with producer Mark Lavender – introduced the film and answered questions about it afterwards. It was a strange experience, meeting someone in the flesh and then seeing them up on screen a couple of minutes later – and for the first couple of scenes, I wondered whether I was going to be able to suspend my disbelief.
It is to Henderson’s immense credit as an actress that, after less than five minutes, I was fully engaged with Kath, the character whom she portrays: a fishery worker from Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, with a missing-presumed-dead sister, who is determined to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding her disappearance.
Imbuing Kath with the sort of quiet, ambiguous, is-she-disturbed-or-just-different singularity of character with which she has come to be associated (I’m a long-time fan), Henderson compensates for Kath’s verbal uncommunicativeness by means of an extraordinarily subtle, intense, multi-layered performance, in which Kath’s facial expressions speak volumes on her behalf: you simply can’t tear your eyes away from her. To have constructed so rich a character from such sparsely and simply worded dialogue is an astonishing achievement, and a process which Shirley was happy to talk about during the Q&A (revealing an unexpected Scottish accent in the process).
It’s a slowly paced film – a mood-piece, beautifully shot on location in Fleetwood – and yet, despite the lack of constant forwards movement in the plot, I found myself riveted. There are mysteries to be solved, not all of which are ever fully explained (although you are given some fairly clear nudges in certain directions), and the film cooks up an intriguing brew of the real and the imaginary, the natural and the supernatural, the logical and the just plain baffling.
(Oh, and that gorgeous man who starred in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North And South is in it. Woof woof, readers!)
I might have been on BBC Radio Nottingham today, commenting on the film – but we can’t stream radio at work, so I’ve no way of knowing. (It was a little disconcerting, giving a gushing review of Shirley’s performance while she was standing only a few feet away, in full earshot, but I’m sure she’s used to worse.)
Frozen, ladies and gentlemen. I commend it to the group.