Having dealt with death and loneliness in his previous piece Still Life, Italian filmmaker Uberto Pasolini returns to these themes with equivalent success in single-parent drama Nowhere Special.
While his last picture was a comedy-drama, this father-son tale is touchingly inspired by a true story and never feels over-sentimentalised. McMafia star James Norton plays John – a single, working-class, window cleaner in Northern Ireland – who is dying of a terminal illness and looking to find his four-year-old son Michael (Daniel Lamont) a suitable family home.
Never overplaying the lachrymosity of this situation is a very sensible directional choice from Pasolini. The only glaring issue with the feature is its attempt to derive narrative tension from finding the young boy an appropriate place to live. The social workers, the child himself and even the audience know who the best choice is by the end of the film, as there is only one visit where the preschooler warmly interacts with his prospective foster parent. It is odd, therefore, that the protagonist is torn about who would best care for his son. Unfortunately, the director does not offer the conflicted character any answers.
The situation is convincing, despite this, and their relationship is touchingly depicted through the acting and production. The work from dialogue coach Brendan Gunn ensures the actor adopts a technically flawless Northern Irish accent. Orlaith Walsh’s make-up supervision accurately portrays the enervating impact of John’s illness. Moreover, the contrast of the picture’s muted colour palette with the vibrancy of Michael’s garments poignantly demonstrates the enduring love the father has for his son.
The foundation of the emotive power of the feature is the believable paternal relationship between Norton and Lamont. Scenes of dialogue and non-verbal communication have an underlying tenderness that allows the story to be free of pretentiousness or sentimentality. In fact, the performance shines a positive light on single parenthood through delicate verisimilitude. Nowhere Special is a touching, true-to-life tale that shows how tragic circumstances can give way to a promising future.
Nowhere Special is released nationwide on 16th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Nowhere Special here: