The Edinburgh International Film Festival is often an opportunity for filmmakers to come and showcase their directorial debuts at a small but beloved film fest. Michael Lennox's A Patch of Fog is one such film. It received its UK premiere at this year's EIFF and my verdict on it is in.


The film opens with Conleth Hill's Sandy Duffy committing some theft in a store. As it's soon revealed, Duffy is a celebrated literary author, renowned for his award-winning, very much fictional novel A Patch of Fog. Living in a big house, appearing ever night on local TV show Night Visions, to review the latest in culture, with a sweet relationship with his colleague Lucy (Lara Pulver), his life is good until he is one-day caught in his supermarket shoplifting act, by the mysterious and strange security guard Robert (Stephen Graham) - despite all the money he has, he seems to get a real kick out of stealing. As Robert begins to blackmail Sandy into befriending him, the stalker's obsession with the writer begins to reach crazy points. However, as Sandy tries to escape him, he soon finds that he is getting himself entangled deeper and further into this mess and into Robert's life with options quickly running out and nowhere to turn.
The narrative seems simple enough and, sure enough, John Cairns and Michael McCartney's screenplay is compelling. The film crafts an engaging enough story to intrigue the audience and get them invested in what's going on. As Sandy gets plunged deeper and deeper into Robert's life, similarly, the viewer is getting further engaged in the narrative as the film progresses, for the most part that is. Cairns and McCartney have written very fascinating characters in both Duffy and his lone stalker. There isn't a definitive protagonist or antagonist and you find yourself juggling various opinions about both characters, both for and against both characters. The line between morals is blurred here and it's here where the script is at its best - the enthralling relationship between Sandy and Robert; this focus of morality and blurred lines. However, whilst those two characters are the focal point of the film, you can't help but feel that all other secondary characters feel so one-dimensional at best. They're not all that important in the film but their presence seems very functional, merely there to add to the premise every so often.

Both Conleth Hill and Stephen Graham give truly superb performances as our two leads. They both demand your presence. The former brings a very subdued and intellectual weight to the character, whereas the latter is more callous and creepy. There is veritable chemistry between our leads and both Hill and Graham carry this film, with their dynamic so engaging and watchable. The fact that the two characters are complete opposites of one another - Duffy has class and intellect; Robert is more simplistic and insane - yet both so similar at the time - both so desperate for their own reasons - makes their relationship so fascinating to watch and Lennox directs it with ease and meaning. His direction is great and it should be said that the cinematography in A Patch of Fog is remarkable. The colour palette can get fairly bland at times but there are some scenes which are just visual poetry.
Where the film falters is that it begins to get fairly repetitive. We're basically watching a game of shadows between Hill and Graham for the whole film but, there's only so much you can do before a sense of déjà-vu settles in and the film painstakingly hits the same beats over and over again. The pacing is also very uneven and the film doesn't quite flow seamlessly as it should, but feels more so like a journey that starts off strong and smooth but begins to get fairly bumpy and tiresome as we just clammer to get to the destination sooner rather than later. With a pretty short runtime of 93 minutes, this film feels surprisingly too long as tedium kicks in towards a very frustrating and cop-out finale that feels too on the nose and heavy handed, with what came before, ultimately kind of deflating the cleverness and subtlety the film was promising. However, whilst it may have its foggy patches, A Patch of Fog is an engaging, competent and pretty slick thriller nonetheless with two outstanding performances and some very promising direction and storytelling from newcomer Lennox.


With two great leads in Hill and Graham and promising direction from Lennox, A Patch of Fog is slick, stylish and well-made. However, whilst engrossing at first, the film soon wears thin and begins to get repetitive, leading to a fairly tedious finale and wholly uneven picture.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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