Pin Cushion, the first feature to be written and directed by Deborah Haywood, is wholly unique and irresistibly likeable, bubbling with personality. When tight-knit mother-daughter duo Lyn (Joanna Scanlan) and Iona (Lily Newmark (– aka Dafty One and Dafty Two –move to a new area to make a fresh start, their bond begins to dissolve as Iona becomes involved with a new friend group who slowly torment her to breaking point. With both mother and daughter ostracised from the community, neither are willing to admit the truth until it’s too late. Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age dramedy, Pin Cushion offers both a touching take on the mother/daughter relationship and an unflinching portrayal of the effects of bullying in contemporary society.
In order for this film to work, Lyn and Iona’s relationship had to be convincing, and Scanlan and Newmark are definitely that. As we see their partnership slowly deteriorate, we cannot help but feel the pain and regret each is suffering. Scanlan, especially, is compelling as the incredibly quirky and loving motherly figure mistreated for her deformity. Newmark, too, does an excellent job as the naïve schoolgirl trying to fit in. This pairing is the magical ingredient in a super concoction where any other casting wouldn’t have felt right.
Rather than fully grounding her story in realism, Haywood incorporates a series of colourful fantasy sequences depicting Iona’s imagination, which allows viewers a playful insight into the character’s mind while also giving Pin Cushion an identity of its own. This distinct style is further embodied within the innocent world Lyn has constructed to protect herself (and Iona) from reality.
As captivating as it is, Pin Cushion can be very hard to watch at times; it pulls no punches when confronting the awfully bleak reality of bullying and self-loathing. While we may laugh at its quirks and charms, this is a film that ultimately reminds us that there aren’t always fairytale endings, a message that resonates loudest within its emotionally devastating finale.
Refreshingly charismatic and full of its own unique personality, Pin Cushion is an endearing and eye-opening exploration of the impact of bullying, wrapped in a colourful coming-of-age tale.
Pin Cushion does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Pin Cushion here: