Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

Trespass Against Us 04.03.17

Trespass Against Us 04.03.17

04/03/17, Trespass Against Us

It's an issue worth considering: in modern Britain's paradigm of high rents and the elusive property ladder, is there another way to live? Like the Travellers, for example, with their caravans and open-air and camp fires?

It's a grim alternative that's depicted in Trespass Against Us, it has to be said. The film shows Michael Fassbender's protagonist – a charismatic 'Billy-the-Kid' traveller – torn between making a safer life for his kids and wife, and sticking with the community dominated by his patriarch, crime-organizing father. The casting does so much to undermine the ambiguity of the situation: on the periphery, for example, is Sean Harris playing one of his staple of obnoxious characters – (see Prometheus; Harry Brown) – in this case a backward traveller of random violence. More importantly, Brendan Gleeson conforms to type as a bullying patriarch who believes the world is flat – literally, as pronounced in a series of monologues – while also being a hypocrite. He warns his community against the outsiders (including police) trespassing on their world, while he and the travellers trespass on the property of others, stealing for both the money and the high.

This latter issue is part of a bigger one that emerges when the young children of the protagonist go missing, having failed to turn up at school. Fassbender's character, along with his wife, go to the very police they despise and distrust, asking for help in finding their kids. They turn to the very system they oppose and contribute nothing to, in other words, when they really need it.

This travelling community, then, has a sickness about it, with its poverty and malevolence and intellectually stunted figures. The funniest moment in the film is also calculatingly grotesque: Gleeson's patriarch is in church with his extended family, sermonizing the importance of their community, while the dangerous idiot-son by played by Harris – covered in blue paint from a previous altercation – holds up a framed picture of Jesus. I laughed, and then I didn't like that I'd laughed at something so deliberately ridiculous. These are flat-earth people and of course the protagonist should take his family away from them. It has all the subtlety of Fassbender driving a 4x4 into a country mansion, which of course he does in this film. Their crimes, like their outlook, are primitive.

This is neither a film of subtlety, therefore, nor one that shows travellers in any kind of flattering light. Perhaps travellers really are this repulsive and threatening, but as I reflect on the film now, I also feel sad that an alternative to 'the norm' is revealed in so negative a light.
Certain Women 07.03.17
Toni Erdmann


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Friday, 25 September 2020

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

July 01, 2020

Silenced by The Scotsman

​ On 11 June, The Scotsman published a deeply hostile article against transgender rights and activism in an opinion piece about the JK Rowling furore by its deputy political editor Gina Davidson. After much distress, I wrote a counter article which The Scotsman quietly ignored, after they had offered to pass it on to their Comment Editor. I experie...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...
November 10, 2019

General Election

General Election 12 December 2019 I spent the last election in an office, alone but for the company of a colleague. We watched the BBC's coverage while I drank wine, downbeat and expecting austerity and the absence of hope to triumph. Then we saw the exit poll and hung around, disbelieving at the sight of the kindled embers and lukewarm glow of a f...
October 05, 2019


October 05, 2019


Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...
September 29, 2019

Resisting Whiteness event 2019

Resisting Whiteness one-day event, Edinburgh Returning for the second consecutive year, Resisting Whiteness came yesterday to the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh, providing an intense and inspiring series of panels, as well as a wonderful spoken word section, and a final segment based around the documentary short Invisible by internationally-acclaim...
August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...