The film's premise revolves around a teenage aspiring writer entering the lives of a dysfunctional family living in the south coast of England. "Albatross" is a metaphor used to describe a constant and inescapable burden.
The film was shot entirely on the Isle of Man with the support of the Island's government. It is MacCormick's feature film debut, having previously made his name in television. Also making her debut was screenwriter Tamzin Rafn. Rafn based the script on her own experiences as a rebellious teenager.
Albatross premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2011. It was released in the United Kingdom on 14 October 2011. While the film has gathered mixed reviews, Brown Findlay has received near-universal praise for her performance.
Albatross is BAFTA-nominated director Niall MacCormick's debut feature film and the first screenplay by Tamzin Rafn. According to Rafn, the script was optioned by producer Marc Samuelson and CinemaNX about three weeks after her agent sent it out. It was then sent out to directors, some of whom Rafn met. She said MacCormick was one of her favourites and was "really glad" when the script was offered to him.
Tamzin Rafn wrote the screenplay of Albatross on weekends over the course of three months while working full-time during the weekdays.
The film's recurring theme, one's desire to escape from something holding her back, is derived from Rafn's personal experiences. Rafn grew up in the quiet town of Worthing on the south coast of England and spent her teenage years wanting to leave. According to her, "pushing the boundaries came as a result of that being an actuality in my teens. It just so turns out that being a nightmare comes naturally to me. And writing Emilia was like writing a version of myself but adding characteristics to make it filmic and that meant giving her some tragedy and heart to explain her behaviour."
Rafn credited Diablo Cody as inspiration for her to write about her own experiences. Cody began her foray into writing by penning a memoir about her career as a stripper. She later won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Juno. Rafn said, "What I did know about though was naughty girls in seaside towns. I knew that because I'd been one and I always loved movies about people who misbehaved... So I sat down and I thought about everything I loved in movies. That list ran to: naughty girls, seaside towns, writers and scandalous behaviour. I then watched every movie that fitted that for me - The Wonder Boys, The Squid and the Whale, Wish You Were Here, The Door in the Floor, Thirteen."
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In the indie hit from 2011, Findlay plays Emelia, a rebellious teen and aspiring novelist. She meets mousy Beth (Felicity Jones) and strikes up a friendship. Emelia starts taking creative writing lessons from Beth's novelist-father (Sebastian Koch) and they begin a tryst.
This is also a coming of age story but with so many delicious layers. Each character has several motives and it is fascinating.
I loved the contrast between Beth and Emelia and how the girls grew from each other. I liked the mystery around Emelia and how her plight is so much about self identity.
The main players are all really good. This is a really tight and fascinating little movie. Kind of wished it was longer. (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.
This was a bit of a weird one to be honest.
"Albatross" starts promisingly enough but then stalls in a sea of quirkiness. That's not to mention going the old tired route of a disruptive force introduced to a family going nowhere and liberating everybody. And with predictable results. Plus stereotypes. The writing angle might have had a chance if played correctly which it isn't as it is thrown to the curbside in the most desultory manner imaginable. Instead, it seems all the characters are suffering under the weight of the past, especially Beth who has to deal with her parents. However, the actors do a good job trying to breathe life into such cliches while very much out of their usual comfort zones. Nice scenery, though.