Make Up

Reviewed by Ian Payne

Keswick Film Club has long supported new British talent, particularly from behind the camera. Make Up was Director (and writer) Claire Oakley's first feature film and there was ample evidence that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

It is the story of Ruth who at age 18 is finally allowed to go and stay with her boyfriend, who works in a Cornish holiday park. It is the end of the season, people are heading home and the site is being shut down for the winter.

Ruth's joy at being able to share a caravan – and a bed - with Tom is tempered by a number of factors. The staff team on the site is an unpleasant crew, the local foxes and the deteriorating weather bring a disturbing background soundtrack and worst of all, she seems to find evidence that Tom has not been faithful during their time apart. So begins Ruth's obsession with finding the red-haired girl.

The harsh reality of living with someone for the first time, combined with her suspicion, starts to play havoc with Ruth's mind and she eventually finds companionship, and more, with Jade, the one staff member who is remotely sympathetic. Tom may not be The One after all.

Claire Oakley's direction was first class. Despite the holiday park being a few yards away from Cornwall's vast Atlantic coast, the film had a claustrophobic feel as the action took place largely within the confines of the site's mobile homes. Oakley made superb use of the holiday park - caravans, sealed in polythene for the end-of-season fumigation or the austere shower blocks - as a backdrop to Ruth’s unravelling.

There was something of a clunky metaphor in Ruth's relationship with the sea but overall this was a clever and suspenseful film where reality and imagination were often blurred.

Ruth was played by rising star (and Bafta winner), Molly Windsor, who was a leading actor in The Runaways, which opened the Keswick Film Festival. Director Richard Heap said that Molly would be unlikely to attend the screening as she was now wishing to be known for more grown-up roles. 'Make Up' must have been exactly what she had in mind.