Talulah Riley plays three roles in rom-com Scottish Mussel, acting as star, writer and director. Sadly, her feature debut is as vacuous as they come, without so much as a morsel of skill on display and lacking both drama and humour. Ritchie (Martin Compston) is a chancer who spends his days hanging around at the pub with best mates Danny (Joe Thomas) and Fraser (Paul Brannigan). Disillusioned with their poor lifestyle, Ritchie sees money in mussel farming and volunteers at a wildlife centre in the Highlands. As he schemes to sell mussel pearls he falls in love with conservationist Beth (Riley).
Likewise, Riley's direction is devoid of spark, washing the film over in a fantasy-like haze of irritatingly warm pastel colours that never breaks. Anyone could have made Scottish Mussel. There's nothing to set Riley's name apart from the rest or to highlight her skill. In terms of acting, Compston is the only survivor, nailing the cheeky chappy part in such a way that draws some warmth from the chilliness. The rest flail under the heinous dialogue and stereotypes their characters inhabit (pompous American, the comic relief and barmy mother. Not one thing pushes the film above the trite wreck it is. It's shocking to believe that money could be ploughed into something as bad as this.
Jamie Neish | @EmptyScreens