(Niall MacCormick, 2011, UK)
Set in the idyllic climes of England’s south coast, Albatross introduces relative newcomer Jessica Brown-Finlay as wayward teen Emelia who is, as the poster suggests, beautiful, smart, talented and trouble, as cliché decrees. Taking up a cleaning job in an acclaimed coastal hotel, Emelia brings her bolshie attitude to the family who run it, ultimately becoming an annoyance to the mother (Julia Ormand), eye candy for the father (Sebastian Koch) and a friend to the daughter, played by the always-engaging Felicity Jones. Yet, initial appearances obviously prove to be deceiving, and as Emelia’s tough-as-nails exterior begins to ebb away, she reveals herself to be a talented writer, something she maintains being the distant relative of Arthur Conan Doyle has brought her.
The feature debut of television director Niall MacCormick, as well as for first-time screenwriter Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a slushy, insubstantial little ditty that carelessly meanders between lightweight comedy and overwrought drama without conviction, trading originality for predictability in the process. A coming-of-age tale about a teenage girl coming to grips with her primary intellects is nothing new, and it’s told engagingly enough to sustain its cinematic existence, but its characters are so unoriginal that they work to the films detriment. Cut from stock, there is the rebellious teen from a broken home, a domineering mother married to a novelist with writers block (and a wondering eye) with an Oxford-hopeful daughter who’s idea of fun is revising, and despite being played by a watchable cast, they make Albatross an unmemorable piece of fluff.