Monday, 26 February 2018

My Feral Heart (2016)

Luke is an independent you man with Downs Syndrome who cares for his ailing, elderly mother, Joan. When Joan suddenly dies, Luke finds himself placed in care, a daunting environment that is a world away from the self sufficiency he has previously enjoyed. Determined to claw back some of his freedom, Luke makes allies with the chirpy carer Eve, and Pete, a troubled local young man performing community service within the care home's grounds. Venturing outside one day, Luke stumbles across a desperate young girl in need and finds an outlet once again for his kindly caring nature and big heart.

A fiercely independent British feature armed with good intentions and wearing its (feral) heart on its sleeve, My Feral Heart is a touching and understated feature from director Jane Gull that captivated Mark Kermode last year. It boasts some fine performance from its central, mostly unknown leads; Steven Brandon as Luke, Shana Swash (Joe Swash's significantly more talented kid sister) as Eve, Will Rastall as Pete and Pixie le Knot as The Girl. It's the latter that contributes to the film's most enigmatic narrative: it's not quite clear just who this mute damsel in distress that Luke tends to actually is or indeed where she has come from. Does she even exist or is she part of Luke's imagination? There's a lyrical symbolism to her appearance - snagged in a fox trap - that fits neatly with the film's spoken themes of reincarnation and people coming back as animals. What you get out of My Feral Heart depends on how comfortable you are with such an enigma.

It's not completely perfect, at times the film does feel a little like an extended episode of the BBC daytime drama strand Moving On, and it never feels particularly cinematic despite Susanne Salavati's nature fixated B roll which is accompanied by a score from celebrated composer Barrington Pheloung. But you'd have to be a particularly emotionless individual to not be touched by this tender and beguiling small film with a big heart.

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