It’s astonishing how many creepy guys women have to put up with. Creepy dudes seem to lurk everywhere. They emerge to grope themselves publicly, say really awkward things or strike up conversations with the obvious (“So, shopping, huh?”).
There are simply not that many creepy women out there. Or, rather, female creepiness is expressed either in private or, at least, less aggressively—by doing yoga or belly dancing in the middle of a hip-hop concert, for instance. Many men, on the other hand, simply love to cruise around town and display their creepiness with wanton obliviousness or, just as often, pride.
A woman who has a thing for creeps, seriously enhances her dating prospects.
Such is the case for Kate Breck (Sophia Myles), the love interest in Mister Foe, who exclaims, midway through the darkly comedic Scottish indie-drama, “I like creepy guys.”
This is fortunate for Kate’s interlocutor Hollam Foe (Jamie Bell), a boy who enjoys, from the seclusion of his tree house lair, donning a tribal-looking headdress he fashioned from a dead skunk. He pairs this with his deceased mother’s dresses, smears himself in makeup—partly to go drag, partly as war paint—and, armed with binoculars and lock picks, creeps around roofs at night like a Peeping Tom version of Batman. Creep Boy, perhaps.
Hollam—alone in Edinburgh after he ditches his family’s country, loch-side estate and after he suspects his stepmother is to blame for his mother’s drowning—develops a crush on Kate because she reminds him of his mommy deadest. He expresses this interest by watching, through conveniently placed skylights, Kate sleep, screw or practice kickboxing. Kate, luck would have it, is sort of fine with all this…even pleased.
This central bit of fetishistic serendipity strikes one, on the page, as a bit too fateful. But, on screen, through a combination of absorbing, fast-flowing storytelling by Mister Foe’s director, David Mackenzie (Asylum, Young Adam), a great soundtrack provided entirely by UK label Domino Records and excellent acting by Bell (Billy Elliot) and Myles (Art School Confidential), as well as the rest of a very fine cast, such contrivance goes unnoticed. Mister Foe is simply too fun, heartfelt, risqué, brisk and well-acted for those with any taste for the macabre-comic to be annoyed by such things.
Alas, creepy dudes, you have little reason to rejoice: Cool kids have always proclaimed an affinity for anti-social creeps in films while they continue to cruelly spurn them in real life. Mister Foe is good but will do little to change that.
Directed by David Mackenzie
Written by David Mackenzie, Ed Whitmore, based on the novel Hallam Foe by Peter Jinks
With Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Ciarán Hinds, Maurice Roëves and Claire Forlani
95 min., R