A curious British, nay Cornish, feature film. Tin is produced by Miracle Theatre, a traveling group of artists who tour the UK extensively with their own unique takes on classics such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Frankenstein.
Now branching out into the cinematic universe they have chosen the richly historical, and did I mention Cornish, subject of mining down in the South West. Incorporating the affairs of the mine owners with the banks, the workers, the local church and indeed a traveling feature group which includes Jenny Agutter amongst it’s ranks. Shot with a combination of green screen and real life locations around Newquay. It’s an impressive undertaking, a charming addition to the British cinema scene and a frankly novel way to make a low-budget film. So is it a success?
The short answer is not entirely! The first thing that really stands out at you is the look of the film. The mix of location shooting and CG backgrounds don’t ever truly mesh together. Whilst it must exponentially reduce the costs of production the green staged scenes always look tacky and unnatural particularly in wide shots where the actors sometimes look as though they’re walking around a differently shaped room during the staging. It has the same quality of older BBC sitcoms where it’s clear when the camera stock changes from the sound stage to the street.
Similarly the plot is a bit all over the place. Ostensibly about a tin mine which is the focus of this small Cornish community. Unscrupulous bankers, one of which is played by Dudley Sutton who you either know from The Devils, Lovejoy or The Football Factory, attempt to take control of the mine which has been loosing money but has had copper recently discovered in it. The story zeroes in on the mine’s foreman, his home which includes Nel (Helen Bendell) who sees to all things in the house. She is also the unrequited love of the foreman, sadly for him though her heart belongs to the local vicar, whilst randomly having a scene or two with one of the traveling actors. Oh yes, the traveling actors who ride in like Billy Zane in Tombstone to shake things up for the locals. Jenny Agutter’s Marjorie Dawson is one of it’s stars and has a relationship with the tin mine’s owner. All the while the foreman’s daughter is working with a choir and you know it sort of just goes on. Lost a bit? It’s because there is probably one too many story strands going on. The theatre team seem to want to give everyone their screen time without really covering any plot strand in depth. Some characters and relationships appear from nowhere and disappear just as quick.
Sprawling as it is, the cast too is a little all over the place. The majority of the performances are played perfectly on point with the gentle poise you expect from period drama. Helen Bendell’s Nel is at times as delicate as a sea breeze gently prodding the cliff face gorse. At times she thunders across the screen as powerful as the gales that re-shape the coast line trees. Hmmm not sure about that imagery but I love Cornwall so it stays. Ben Dyson’s Rundle is an ocean of self loathing and anger, it’s a very watchable if a little one-note performance. Jenny Agutter turns up as the elder states person of the cast and is perfectly fine though. Some performances though such as the vicar do illicit thoughts of “Really? You’re really doing it like that? For the WHOLE thing? Okay, good luck”. Over-the-top would be kind to describe it.
So mixed performances, a plot that’s all over the shop and not the most compelling and a literal mixed bag of visuals. But all being said and done I liked Tin and I’m glad it exists. It may be a novelty of a film to a degree but it shows that smaller companies of artists can create something with real heart and tries to appeal to a wider audience without coming over too amateur. Tin feels a little free and loose with it’s film making techniques at times but never amateurish. It’s a bold attempt to create a sprawling narrative for one of the UK’s most special and perhaps overlooked regions.
Tin is being screened at a host of cinemas across the country now. For more information look it up at www.tinmovie.com
Dir: Bill Scott
Starring: Jenny Agutter, Dudley Sutton, Ben Luxon
Prod: Anna Ukleja, Bill Scott, Denzil Monk
DOP: Morgan Lowndes
Run time: 90 mins