EIFF 2015 – Blood Cells
Directing duo Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore’s Blood Cells follows a man living a transient existence compelled to return to his family when a profound event happens.
Adam (Barry Ward) is the son of a dairy farmer who lost everything when their herds were culled as a result of the foot and mouth crisis. Ever since then Adam has lived a solitary existence moving from place to place on some kind of aimless quest.
This all changes when he learns of his younger brother’s impending fatherhood and travels home in order to witness the birth. This causes him to reunite with old friends and family as well as ex-lovers. At its core this is a film that seems to be about digging up the ghosts of the past and confronting them as the person you are now. It’s certainly the vibe that comes across but the film never quite gets there.
Adam is a good character throughout. He is constantly charming and free spirited. Everyone he meets is met with a friendly attitude and will take any opportunity to have a drink with someone while telling a story. It seems that he craves companionship but quickly becomes overwhelmed by it. There’s a sense that there is a desire to be alone while needing human interaction now and again. It’s almost as if he really wants to escape from something in his past.
This is hinted at now and again but never explicitly stated and remains underdeveloped by the end. I would have liked a raw exploration into what motivates Adam to spend his life alone but occasionally drifting in and out of random lives as he travels. It’s a curiosity that is never satisfied by the end of the film.
Barry Ward does a good job. There’s a quiet integrity about him as well as a hidden melancholy that bubbles beneath the surface. The performance is definitely a layered on and Ward plays Adam as likeable enough to engage the audience and gain sympathy.
Unfortunately the film has a tendency to meander around without any real focus. It’s almost as if the story was cobbled together from many different script drafts and the result is the patchwork that we get here. There are scenes that drag on endlessly with no real point to them but equally there are good ideas barely alluded to before being dropped completely.
The haphazard structure makes it difficult to remain invested in what’s going on. There are isolated scenes where we learn a little more about Adam through is interactions with others and these are by far the strongest moments on display. Sadly the film falters by not having enough of these and not taking advantage of them when they are part of the story. In some ways it’s similar to Hector but that film handles this subject matter an awful lot better.
Given the uneven pacing and structural problems I can’t really recommend this film to anyone. The Adam character is an interesting one and he’s well performed but the film never really answers any of the questions posed about him. Best to watch Hector instead, it’s a better example of a transient homeless man character study.