Wednesday, March 01, 2006

PAVEE LACKEEN - a slice of life on the margins

PAVEE LACKEEN is a fascinating low-budget film shot on video by a British film-maker called Perry Ogden. The film focuses on the traveller community living on the outskirts of Dublin, and on one ten-year old girl called Winnie in particular. Winnie is one of ten kids living with their mother and their father is absent: the mother has pawned her wedding ring. The girls can't read or write, or even read a clock. They wash their hair under a stand-pipe across the road from the trailer and put on their make-up in a mirror in a lorry because there is no electricity for the lights in the trailer. Having spent the day getting dolled up, Winnie and her sister totter down the road to the chip shop. They sit on the side of the road eating chips. "Boring, isn't it?" one says to the other. They never even make it to the nightclub.At various points we see Winnie being pulled up by teachers, or helped out by a doctor, or potentially being re-housed by a social worker. The depiction of her life is deeply depressing.

The movie is shot in documentary style and makes very little editorial comment about the social issue on which it focuses. Neither does it attempt to impose a neat narrative arc on the film, although throughout the film there is the threat of eviction. Some have found this lack of clear narrative a reason to criticise the film. But for me, the strength of the movie is that Perry Ogden trusts in his material. I found PAVEE LACKEEN to be a fascinating look at people on the edges of our society - a story that needs to be told. It seems to be that the use of non-professional actors and the meandering structure of the film is perfectly suited to this kind of honest material.

PAVEE LACKEEN played at the London Film Fest 2005 where it won the Satyajit Ray award for Best First Feature. It is currently on limited release in the UK.

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