That Sinking Feeling. Film Review

Director: Bill Forsyth
Screenplay: Bill Forsyth
Starring: Robert Buchanan, Drew Burns, John Hughes, Billy Greenlees
Running Time: 93 Min
Certificate: 12
Format: Blu-ray/DVD dual edition
Reviewed by Guy Adams

Bill Forsyth is perhaps most fondly remembered for GREGORY’S GIRL and LOCAL HERO but the BFI have finally released a high-definition edition of his first, somewhat overlooked, film as part of their indispensable ‘Flipside’ series.

THAT SINKING FEELING is the story of trying to make something from nothing, both in its plot and its production. A gang of bored Glasgow kids, sick of not having a penny to rub together, decide to make their fortune by stealing stainless steel sinks and selling them on.

Behind the scenes, a director of documentaries and sponsored information films decides he wants to make a feature film but nobody will give him finance. So he decides to write letters to local businesses asking for sponsorship and use members of the Glasgow Youth Theatre as his main cast.

Both schemes were successful.

THAT SINKING FEELING is a no-budget exercise in humour and invention. It’s quirky, sweet and genuinely funny. The heist element only really comes into play during the last half of the film with much of the screen time given over to a succession of comedic scenes involving Forsyth’s young cast.

It’s lack of budget rarely shows — if any city suits an existence on grainy 16mm it’s Glasgow in the late seventies — and if the acting of the leads is patchy it’s easily forgiven as you get caught up in the film’s charm.

Equally charming is the commentary track from Forsyth and Mark Kermode who also feature in a ten minute piece shot prior to a screening of the film. In this, Forsyth shows his collection of accounts for the film, examples of the letters he sent out to secure donations, and, wonderfully, a letter from his bank concerning his overdraft that was received a couple of days prior to him securing distribution.

That’s barely scraping the surface of the extras which are particularly generous. There are also four short films included, two featuring Forsyth as an actor, one as editor and finally ‘Islands of the West’ a documentary about the Outer Hebrides that stands as an example of Forsyth’s career prior to making features.

There is an interview with Robert Buchanan, the film’s young lead and a short film made by Forsyth in 2007 accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award from BAFTA.

Most crucially, the film is finally presented in the correct aspect ratio and with its original audio. When picked up for American distribution, the film was re-dubbed for fear foreign audiences wouldn’t understand the Glaswegian accents. When the film was released on DVD in 2009 — by 2Entertain — that was the dub used, much to the consternation of the film’s many fans.

A comprehensive and definitive package of a very enjoyable film.