The Ballad of Billy McCrae
An intense psychological thriller that brings to mind many a noir classic, The Ballad of Billy McCrae is set in a quiet, unassuming Welsh town where life is uneventful but passions run high. Directed by Chris Crow and written by Philip Palmer, the story has all the familiar elements of the genre and it uses them effectively for the most part.
Chris (Ian Virgo) returns to his hometown in Wales after his successful business in Canada encounters serious problems, leaving him bankrupt. Back at his parents’ house, Chris’s father finds him a modest job as a labourer at the local quarry. Billy McCrae (David Hayman), the strict and unsympathetic quarry owner, gradually begins to appreciate Chris’s hardworking attitude and allows him to grow in the company, but he also starts to investigate the young man’s murky past. Unbeknown to his boss, Chris is falling in love with the capricious Elen (Sianad Gregory), Billy’s only daughter. There are no safe moves for any of them to make, and yet the three protagonists move blindly and audaciously towards their destiny. Flawed and incapable of escaping their limitations, their main drive is their instinct to fight for survival and thrive, but this drags them in increasingly dangerous places.
Crow creates an engaging thriller that flows well, thanks to the great performances of the cast. The storyline, however, is linear and rather predictable, and some plot developments are brought about somewhat artificially. The passages that could have been handled with more sophistication are many, and they include the start of the love story between Chris and Elen, and a key scene at the end that unveils new layers of truth. Aside from the imperfections and hiccups in the storytelling, the film is, all-in-all, captivating. Although it relies heavily on typical noir elements, it is not lacking in feeling and is thus ultimately convincing enough.
The Ballad of Billy McCrae is released nationwide on 24th September 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Ballad of Billy McCrae here: