Two strong performances from Scottish actors, Peter Mullan and Gary Lewis, help to make nautical drama, Cargo, a break from the norm at this month’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.
In comparison to the other film which Spike has been privy to, this debut feature from director, Clive Gordon, is tense and dark, with a dose of action thrown in for good measure.
The plot centres upon a young stowaway who is discovered aboard a freight ship travelling from Africa to France. The usual punishment for illegal passengers is to be thrown overboard, but Chris, a German backpacker, is spared this fate by the captain, played by a distant and brooding Mullan.
Despite being told that he must keep a low profile in order to survive, Chris’s curiosity gets the better of him, triggered by the ravings of Lewis’s character, Herman. Slowly, Chris begins to unearth a string of secrets which haunt the ship and its motley crew.
The film recalls a ghost story or a feverish dream, brilliantly building the tension as one by one members of the crew disappear. The already cramped conditions of the ship’s deck and hold seem to grow even smaller as the film continues, so much so that Chris’s sense of panic is acutely
felt by the viewer.
Unfortunately, the promising climax to which the film seems to be moving – the explanation of what happened to the men on this ship – leaves something to be desired. The film is also in danger of taking on a political theme – the exploitation of immigrants – without really needing to, as it works well as a mystery touching on paranoia and the supernatural.
Cargo screens tomorrow at 1945 and Thursday at 1700 at the Cameo.