DVD REVIEW:  Jemima


I’ve often expressed my love affair with Scottish film and filmmakers. They simply seem to have an instinctual ability to create captivating originals that become instant cult classics. There is a murky black humor that seeps into the cleverly crafted storylines riddling them with a dark magic that lingers with you for years after you’ve watched them. At least, this has, thus far, been my experience with Scottish films. Recently I was introduced to the work of an independent filmmaker and photographer by the name of Uisdean Murray.

A native of the remote Scottish Island of North Uist, Murray has pursued his passion for story telling and photography for almost ten years. Since 2002, he has produced a series of short films and music videos, as well as a TV pilot for a fish series shot on the Amazon River. The first two installments of Murray’s trilogy of shorts entitled JEMIMA: DATING IS MURDER and JEMIMA: PHOTOGRAPHIC TROPHY, about a woman who deals with her declining interest in romantic relationships by murdering the man she is currently dating, is what recently arrived on my doorstep (he is currently at work on the third film, SESSIONS OF THE MIND). According to his site: The character of Jemima was conceived by Uisdean Murray and Alan Hutton in 2001 when Alan asked Uisdean to help him write a radio play for his University course. It was after this project when Uisdean realized the potential to turn the play into a film and this was how the first film, "Dating is Murder" was born. As with all independent low-budget film, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. However, I was extremely pleasantly surprised by this upcoming filmmaker’s work. I can honestly say that this “project” is one experiment, which yielded excellent results and, hopefully, will continue to evolve over time.

In the first film the audience is introduced to Jemima (Joy McAvoy), a pretty blond sociopath struggling with her inability to find the right man. However, her problem seems to be that she always ends up chopping her men up into little bits and disposing of them in the trash, rather than working on their relationship issues. McAvoy’s matter-of-fact, jaded presentation of this character is both amusing and highly disturbing on many levels, especially in the beginning when she is calmly explaining to the audience how to properly dispose of the body.

It is simply the way life is for her and it is very obvious that she sees absolutely nothing wrong with how she ends her relationships, her confidence that she will quickly find a new lover preceding any slight worry that she might be caught eventually or run out of willing suitors. In the second installment if the series, Jemima meets her match as she begins dating an equally psychotic man (Duncan Edwards), an amateur photographer with his own dark obsessions and hang-ups about dating. Having barely survived this particular relationship, the third film, which is still in production, follows Jemima as she works with a troubled psychologist, Victoria (Jo Menzer) and establishes a “terrifying connection” with her.

I will be most interested to see how this trilogy concludes. The first two films were intriguing, definitely snaring my attention with the classic black humor I mentioned earlier. Though the tale is a simple one, the darkness of it is tangible, raw and highly believable. Uisdean Murray has a tremendous talent to capture the subtleties of human nature on camera. And the fact that he has created these films simply for the pure sake of creativity is refreshing within itself. I hope to see more from this new voice in film for many years to come! At the moment, the films are available for viewing on YouTube, as well, if you would like to view them for yourselves:

Dating is Murder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NP0K3uyzNU

Photographic Trophy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUiSFuIWcvQ

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