Monday 18 October 2010

The Arbor review

The Arbor (15, 94 mins)
Director: Clio Barnard
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Arbor is the name given to a street on the Bradford housing estate that was home to the late playwright Andrea Dunbar, and this documentary consists mainly of her daughters recalling their troubled upbringing both before and after her death in 1990. It’s a film that works well when showing actual footage shot in the 80s, but the device of having actors lip-synching over the real people’s speech is one that distracts. Why not simply show the people themselves speaking or else have actors re-enact their words? This halfway house may be a novel approach but there’s more than a whiff of Nick Park’s Creature Comforts about it, and that coupled with the unrelenting grimness makes The Arbor something of a chore.

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