I just saw this independent debut film by director/screenwriter Scott Graham. A gem, it is beautiful, thought-provoking, and deeply melancholic.

Set in the remote Scottish Highlands, Shell is both contemporary and timeless. The story revolves around a seventeen year old girl, Shell, who lives in a garage with her dad, in the middle of nowhere. At times a week might go by without seeing another person.

Shell’s mother left when she was four, a loss which is central to the narrative. Her relationship with her dad is close, and complex, and ultimately tragic.

The film moves slowly – at times perhaps too ponderously – punctuated by many silences and against a background of empty roads and a magnificant landscape. It is about broken and unfixable cars, and about people who are beyond, or so it appears to themselves, repair.

At times the symbolism jarred and felt overly contrived – the name Shell and its inevitable association with oil, the bloodied deer and blood on the hands, and thunderous and threatening trucks… But this is a minor quibble.

A Q&A followed with the director and the actor Chloe Pirrie (Shell, very impressive debut on the big screen). I mentioned another film with a similar setting, the wonderful Irish film Garage, which, though thematically very different, also uses the iconic garage in the middle of nowhere as a backdrop. Such symbols are now something of the past, perhaps less so in the Highlands, but, as Graham pointed out in his response to my comment, the stories that emanate from what they represent transcend the symbolism, and are not necessarily rooted in a past, or perhaps even a present.

A treat…