A Sly look at childhood

Wynona Ringer in On the Sly
Wynona Ringer in On the Sly

FRANCO-Belgian film On the Sly is a modern-day fairytale directed by Olivier Ringer and starring his daughter in the lead role.

It is told entirely from the perspective of six-year-old Cathy (Wynona Ringer) who is convinced that her parents (Olivier and Macha Ringer) have no time for her. She complains they don’t pay her any attention on the car journey from Paris to their weekend home in the country and don’t seem to notice her. So when the time comes to return to Paris she slips out of the car and retreats to the woods to embark on a magical adventure involving enchanted seeds, a friendly fish and a large dog.

The grown-ups are only seen fleetingly and the story is told entirely in voiceover (dubbed into English) by the girl. It’s an unusual film which provides a rare insight into a child’s mind and certainly doesn’t patronise, although 77 minutes is more than enough.

It is being screened as part of the Showcomotion Young People’s Film Festival at the Showroom which is also distributing it nationwide. It is the first release from Showcomotion Films, which has been established with the support of the Creative Arts Venues Network, and aims to build a diverse audience for children’s cinema from around the world by releasing a handpicked selection of international children’s films during the school holidays.

Shot in black and white with minimal dialogue and long takes in which very little happens, The Turin Horse (Cert 15) is a minimalist drama from Hungarian director Bela Tarr and collaborator Agnes Hranitzky which purports to muse on the fate of a horse that philosopher Nietzsche saw being whipped in 1899 Turin.

It takes place largely around a windswept farmhouse occupied by an old man (Janos Derszi) and his daughter (Erika Bok) sharing meagre rations and fleeting conversation. Periodically they attempt to hitch their recalitrant horse to a cart or fetch water from the well in a daily routine which is only enlivened by a visit from a neighbour to buy some liquor and a chance encounter from a band of travelling gypsies. If it is to be seen as a musing on the futility of life, it certainly succeeds, though you wonder how many will feel it is 154 minutes well spent sharing that enlightment.

The big film of the week, of course, is Prometheus (Cert 15) which is being kept under wraps until the last minute. Ridley Scott returns to the science-fiction genre with a prequel of sorts to Alien, in which a mission sets off to the far reaches of the solar system in the late 21st century to uncover the secrets of an alien race known as the Engineers. The spaceship called Prometheus is captained by Idris Elba with Charlize Theron on board as an archaelogist and Michael Fassbender as an android but as the party touches down they are woefully unprepared for the horrors that await them.

As Ken Loach prepares to turn 76, he is evidently mellowing in old age because The Angels’ Share (Cert 15) is one of his most upbeat, crowd-pleasing slices of life, picking up a prize at Cannes last weekend A bittersweet modern-day fable in which community service reprobate Robbie (Paul Brannigan) and fellow attendees Albert (Gary Maitland), Rhino (William Ruane) and Mo (Jasmin Riggins) hatch a hare-brained plan to steal four bottles of the most expensive whisky in the world, having an eager buyer lined up in connoisseur Thaddeus (Roger Allam).