Shell Review

Image for Shell

Shell (Pirrie) is a teenager stuck in a seemingly grim subsistence with her introverted dad (Joseph Mawle) in a remote, windswept Scottish garage. But her struggles against the limited choices offered by this life leave her vulnerable to the hand of fate.


The title doesn't refer to a petrol station, though that’s where Scott Graham’s brisk, bracing debut feature is set: a particularly dingy one in the remotest Scottish Highlands, where 17 year-old Shell (hugely promising newcomer Chloe Pirrie), long ago abandoned by her mum, ekes out a hermetic existence with her aloof, epileptic pa. Yes, things could hardly be grimmer up north, but this moving character study dodges standard-issue Brit miserablism with a sly sense of humour and some breathtaking visual poetry: cinematographer Yoliswa Gärtig joins the list of names to watch, finding an alien beauty in this craggy corner of nowhere.

Scott Graham's haunting, minimalist debut grips from the outset with startling photography and an attention-grabbing turn from newbie actress Chloe Pirrie.