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TRUE NORTH

Director: STEVE HUDSON

U.K.-GERMANY-IRELAND • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 96 MIN


A QUARTET OF SCOTTISH FISHERMEN GRAPPLE WITH THE TERRIBLE COST OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN MORALLY RESONANT, DEEPLY-FELT DRAMA ‘TRUE NORTH’, FROM LONDON-BORN, GERMAN-BASED ACTOR-TURNED-DIRECTOR STEVE HUDSON.

After another unsuccessful fishing run from Britain, the Scottish trawler Providence docks in Ostend, Belgium. Desperate to pull his skipper father (Gary Lewis) out of looming debt prior to assuming control of the boat, first mate Sean (Martin Compston) follows a lead from happy-go-lucky deckhand Riley (Peter Mullan) and strikes a lucrative deal with a shady businessman to smuggle some 20 Chinese immigrants in the forward cargo hold during the return trip. In a decision that will prove fateful, Sean decides to hide the presence of the refugees from not only the ship’s cook (Steven Robertson), but from his father as well.

Though he relies too much on distracting cross-cutting during key passages, writer-director Hudson exhibits a sure hand in his directing debut. His script gives each seaman provocative character traits that lead to surprising clashes, and what looks to be a foolhardy decision to shoot on a relatively small boat on the high seas pays huge dividends in storm-set sequences of terrifying power. The cast exhibits a solid interplay based on previous work together: Hudson met Lewis and Compston (who debuted in Ken Loach’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’) when all three worked on Icelandic film ‘Niceland’, while Lewis and Mullan have worked together frequently. Mullan is particularly fearless, as his jovial yet ultimately craven riley embraces life enough to cavort in a dockside brothel but shrinks away form more serious human concerns.—Eddie Cockrell, ‘Variety’.

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