A powerful debut feature: an engrossing study of physical and emotional isolation which emerges as both artful and truthful.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter Scott Graham
- Producer Margaret Matheson, David Smith
- With Chloe Pirrie, Joseph Mawle, Iain de Caestecker
- UK 2012
- 90 mins
- UK distribution Verve Pictures
Shell is a 17-year-old woman living and working at a remote petrol station in the Scottish Highlands. Apart from the infrequent passing trade and a few regulars to acknowledge and catch up with, her only companion is her father Pete, an introverted man to whom she is devoted. Shell’s mother deserted them years before, leaving Pete to bring up the girl on his own. Shell’s affection for her dad and the lonely environs inspire confused emotions that both have difficulty confronting. Shell marks the arrival of Scott Graham as a distinctive new voice in British cinema, a powerful debut feature that is an engrossing study of physical and emotional isolation which manages to be both artful and truthful, a rare film that pulls off a deft combination in being both subtly poignant and emotively devastating. Chloe Pirrie puts in a terrific performance as the titular lead character, providing the film with its beating heart.
I had the idea for Shell when I was driving between Glasgow and the north of Scotland. I was passing rundown garages and roadside diners and I thought about a character emotionally and physically tied to such an isolated place. There’s an emptiness to Shell’s life at the petrol station that goes beyond the roadside. It permeates the walls of the house she shares with her broken-hearted father who is both comforted by Shell and haunted by how much she reminds him of her mother, the woman who left him. He has come to depend on her love, her light, her warmth and it’s hard for him to let her go though that is what he should do. Shell is as lonely as we imagine her mother to have been, living and working in that isolated place, and yet she is willing to stay if her father will love her. She tells a passer-by she doesn’t mind not seeing a car for a week. She seems to think she can survive on love though she never receives any from anyone. She tries to comfort the loneliness she sees in others while never addressing her own. Though her future is uncertain at the end of the film I hope her release feels as uplifting for the audience as it does to her.
Having grown up outside Fraserburgh in the north-east of Scotland, he made his first short, Born to Run, set in a fishing port in the north-east, during the winter of 2005. His second short, Shell, won the UK Film Council Award for Best Film at the London Short Film Festival in 2008, and his third, Native Son, was produced by Film Four under their Cinema Extreme banner and premiered in Critics' Week at Cannes in 2010. His first feature, Shell, is based on his 2008 short about a teenage girl's life with her father in a remote highland petrol station. Scott was chosen as one of Screen International's 'UK Stars of Tomorrow' in 2011.
2006 Born to Run [s]
2008 Shell [s]
2010 Native Son [s]