The Arbor

"Essential"

The Arbor Review


With this bracingly original debut feature, artist Barnard creates one of the most involving and moving documentaries in memory. Stylistically mixing filmmaking approaches, she engulfs us in a fiercely inventive movie experience.

Andrea Dunbar wrote her first play, The Arbor, at age 15. Named after the street where she grew up in Bradford's rough Buttershaw Estate, it was a national sensation, leading to her second play Rita, Sue and Bob Too, which was adapted into an Alan Clarke film. But Andrea's life didn't get much better, with a string of rocky relationships, three children from three men and a terrible alcohol problem. And her snappy, astute writing came to an end at only age 29 when she died of an embolism.

Barnard reveals this story in several visceral ways. First, she interviews Dunbar's friends and family, then uses actors (some with connections to Dunbar's work) to lip-sync to the real audio tracks, blurring fact and fiction and drawing us into the events with startling resonance. She also re-enacts jinglingly witty scenes from The Arbor on Brafferton Arbor itself, with residents gathering to watch the actors. And finally there's archive material of Dunbar herself, which blends with The Arbor as the lead actress (Gavin) looks eerily like Dunbar and is essentially playing out scenes from Dunbar's life.

These elements are expertly filmed and woven together to thoughtfully and frankly explore the legacy of life on a poor housing estate, from the poverty and alcohol of the 70s to drugs and prostitution in the 90s. The strongest focus here is Dunbar's eldest daughter Lorraine (Virk), a mixed-race child who had a very different life than her two all-white siblings. As we follow her complex, difficult story, we see Andrea's own life in striking clarity.

It's rare to find a filmmaking voice as strong as Barnard; Steve McQueen's Hunger is the only comparison for its immersive cinematic ingenuity. Not only is the story compelling and important, but the direction and editing are sharp and revelatory. There's also the real sense that this pure talent, which emerged briefly from the most unlikely of places, was taken away too soon. And that there perhaps have been thousands of others like Dunbar who have never had a chance.



The Arbor

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 25th April 2010

Box Office USA: $21.3k

Box Office Worldwide: $21.3 thousand

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Production compaines: Artangel Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Clio Barnard

Producer: Tracy O'Riordan

Starring: Kate Rutter as The Mother, as Lisa Thompson, George Costigan as Jimmy 'The Wig', as Ann, Neil Dudgeon as Steve, Manjinder Virk as Lorraine Dunbar, Natalie Gavin as The Girl, Parvani Lingiah as Young Lorraine Dunbar, as Max Stafford-Clark / The Father, Liam Price as Billy, Robert Haythorne as Fred

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.