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ONE FULL MOON

UK, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Endaf Emlyn

This subtitled Welsh-language drama deals with a remembered childhood that is, if anything, more harrowing than those depicted by Bill Douglas or Terence Davies. The film is based on a tragic novel by Caradog Prichard, about a mother (Betsan Uwyd) driven to mad­ness and a boy (Tudor Roberts) driven to mur­der by guilt and repression in a remote, poor, North Wales slate-mining community in the 1920s — and is essentially of the poetic natural­ism school. But in keeping with its Celtic roots, director Endaf Emlyn adopts a more distanced, mysterious stance.

It cuts back and forward from the '50s to the '20s, as a man (Dyfan Roberts) revisits in mind and body the village where he spent his traumatic, fatherless adolescence with his hard-pressed mother.- Past and present begin to meld. The film shows their hard daily lives, conducted under the vigilant sin-watching eye of the church, with matter-of-fact honesty and no little humour. The bright, imaginative boy (angels are no stranger to him) has a warm relationship with his mother: she sings to him and allows him into her bed when he is trou­bled. But she is vulnerable: when she is assaulted (presumably raped) by a mad itiner­ant tinker, her frenzied need for expiation pushes her over the edge, and unbalances the boy. Emlyn's attitude to redemption is as enig­matic as the recurring images — scudding skies over green hills, cleansing water, the impassive face of the Virgin. How much does heaven allow? .

• Wally Hammond, Time Out

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