• Guy Jeffries

Swallows and Amazons Review


Director: Philippa Lowthorpe.

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Bobby McCulloch.

British TV movie and mini series director Philippa Lowthorpe, films an adaptation of Arthur Ransome's popular children's book series 'Swallows and Amazons' set on a fictional lake but inspired on the Lake District and the Norfolk Boards. Admittedly, I haven't read the novels so it's hard for me to comment on the adaptation but it's a cute children's adventure with bravery, drama and some sibling rivalry.

We follow a cast of young unknowns, the Walkers, which are similar to the children from Narnia or the Famous Five; typically British for that era going camping, fishing and sailing that brought me back to my childhood of secret base building and wading in the local stream looking for sticklebacks.

The names we should recognise are Kelly Macdonald and Rafe Spall, with an up and coming Andrew Scott. Kelly playing the encouraging, free-spirited mother and Rafe playing a suspicious and mostly obnoxious character who's obviously got something to hide. But the kids steal the show, and rightly so, it's about them after all and they do a grand job especially the emotional and excitable Roger played by Bobby McCulloch. Have to mention Brit comedian Harry Enfield who plays Mr. Jackson which was a surprise to me but a delight in any case.

The scenery is lush and makes you proud of the British countryside which makes me wonder if people from the rest of the world see all this green and think "wow, that looks so beautiful." There's a great score from Ilan Eshkeri, (Stardust, The Young Victoria) that's enchanting and very fitting for the children's adventure adding dramatic effect and suspense.

It feels longer than the 97min running time and wavered slightly in the what felt like the middle of the story. I can imagine there was a lot of ground to cover and possibly a challenge to fit everything into the film, not that any part felt rush. It's well shot with some great camera work and is some light-hearted entertainment for the whole family, however it isn't a grand spectacle but then again I don't think it tries to be.

Running Time: 6

The Cast: 8

Performance: 7

Direction: 8

Story: 7

Script: 7

Creativity: 6

Soundtrack: 8

Job Description: 7

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

64% 6/10

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