Mary Dieng

Directed By: Niall MacCormick

Starring: Jessica Brown-Findlay, Sebastian Koch, Julia Ormond, and Felicity Jones

I guess it is unfair to compare this British coming of age dramedy to American Beauty.  But it’s not a big leap.  Bored middle-aged dad?  Check.  “Shrew-like” mom? Check.  Relatively nondescript teenage daughter?  Check.  Sexy free-spirited best friend of said teenage daughter? Check.  Dysfunctional family? Check, Check, Check, Check.

Jonathan Fischer (Sebastian Koch) is a British writer who had one successful novel, A Cliff House, years ago.  He and his wife, Joa (Julia Ormond) open a bed and breakfast based on the novel.  Jonathan spends his days locked in the attic, attempting to write his next great novel; meanwhile, Joa runs the bed and breakfast, obsesses over their 6 year old daughter and attempts to revive a failed acting career.  Beth (Felicity Jones), the Fischer’s repressed 17 year old daughter is on the cusp of going off to Oxford.  In the midst of their unhappy family life, Emelia Conan Doyle (Jessica Brown Findlay) stumbles into the bed and breakfast to work as a housekeeper.

Emelia is a descendant of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame.  She is the epitome of the rebellious teen: a promiscuous, weed smoker who won’t hesitate to flash her boobs to purchase wine at a liquor store.  Of course, Emelia takes the Fischer family by storm, becoming fast friends with Beth, who is desperate for someone to take an interest in her.  Emelia also makes an impression on Jonathan after catching him in flagrante delicto in front of his computer.  As the film progresses, Hurricane Emelia storms through the Fischer family in all of its dysfunction and turns the cliff house upside down.

Albatross has interesting moments, but does not break any new ground.  Emelia is a bit complex as there is more to her devil may care attitude than meets the eye.  However, the other characters and the plot are predictable.   Ormond has one note and it starts with a b and ends in an itch.  Koch comes across as a bit of a perv, particularly in one scene involving a pope costume and a broom closet; and Beth predictably loosens up with a little help from Emelia.  This movie was 88 minutes long but after about 50 minutes into Albatross, I kept pausing the movie to see how much time was left. 

Albatross was released in theaters at the same time it was released for television.  If you watch it at home or at the theater, I would suggest you bring a cosmopolitan with you.  I wish I had.