Directed by Niall MacCormick and written by newcomer Tamzin Rafn, Albatross is the story of Emelia and what happens to a family who live and work in a beach house when the new cleaner, 17-year-old Emelia shows up. The film stars Sebastian Koch as dad Jonathan, Julia Ormond as mum Joa, Felicity Jones as bookish teenage daughter Beth and Jessica Brown Findlay as the whirlwind Emelia that turns their family upside-down.
Orphaned Emelia has been raised by her grandparents. She is a very forthright character, not afraid to speak her mind - a fact the audience is made aware of quickly as her first encounter with Jonathan is to find him masturbating in his study. Instead of running away and hoping he hadn't heard her (as many would do!) Emelia knocks and stands at the door waiting for his reaction. He tells her she doesn't need to clean in that room. "Are you sure?" she responds. "Seems pretty dirty to me."
Jonathan takes an instant shine to Emelia as she excites him out of his unhappy marriage and writers block. But Jonathan is not the only one who has taken a shine to Emelia. Daughter Beth finds her intriguing and when Emelia is invited to dinner by Beth, Jonathan learns that she is an aspiring writer and offers to teach her creative writing - in secret. After a few sessions of her coming onto him, Jonathan succumbs to Emelia's charms and the two start an affair.
Emelia's two new relationships - with Jonathan and Beth develop simultaneously which is what makes the affair all the more realistic. If Emelia had been friends with Beth first, she wouldn't have considered it. But as she gets closer to Beth, she realises how wrong it is. The fear is not that the parents will split up if the affair is discovered - they are so nasty to each other you want them to break up at this point! - but that Emelia and Beth will end their friendship, a friendship so vital to each of them. This is not just about Emelia teaching Beth how to loosen up - after all, Beth appears to be so into her studies as her own form of escapism from her constantly bickering parents. Emelia is equally impressed with Beth, with her intelligence and quiet determination.
Each character is completely flawed and relatable and the comedic timing of Beth's younger sister Posy is spot-on, offering light-hearted relief amongst the drama. The arguments between mum and dad are hilarious to watch but you know that if they were your parents you'd be shoving ear plugs in just like Beth does. It is this brilliant and perfectly balanced mix between drama and comedy that makes the film such a delight to watch and a gem in British Cinema.
Emelia is a fascinating character, rebellious and outspoken but also caring and desperate to be loved. She clutches to any kind of history she can and struggles constantly with her own identity. She is funny and honest in her ups and downs which makes her immensely likeable. You want her to find happiness and you want her to do well. Watching the impact she has on the family - and them on her - is a thing of beauty.
Albatross hits UK screens on 14th October.
Pictures: Copyright CinemaNX
Pictures: Copyright CinemaNX
For Q&A with star Jessica Brown Findlay and writer Tamzin Rafn click here.