Leeds International Film Festival – The Drunkard’s Lament

Writer & Director: Jim Finn

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

The narrative of Jim Finn’s The Drunkard’s Lament is based on letters by Branwell Brontë, on the subject (mainly) of his sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights. And, of course, there is a fair amount about his addiction to liquor and opium, too. He also waxes lyrical about his affair with a married woman which, like his life really, was doomed to failure.

The footage is deliberately grainy and distorted which gives the piece a really archaic atmosphere as if we are going back in time. Filmmaker Josh Lewis has created the handmade 16mm film emulsion for the film at his artist-run lab. 

The soundtrack for the film was created by Colleen Burke, who brings together musicians like Jim White (The Dirty Three), Sally Timms (The Mekons), Michael James and Munaf Rayani (Explosions in the Sky) in a haunting and intense musical accompaniment to the eerie visuals.

After the premiere of The Drunkard’s Lament at BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente), director Jim Finn developed a role-playing game to accompany the film called, Branwell Brontë’s Role-Playing Game. The role play really is fun. In the same way that this film is Branwell’s early cinema dream of Wuthering Heights, this is Branwell’s altered reality role-playing game of his sister’s novel. In the audience, each of us is given a character and then set certain activities in which to react. On the night of this review, we had murder, disease and a ghost, and this really fleshed out the subject of the movie.

This event at LIFF had real appeal, whether it was for Brontë fanatics, lovers of avant-garde film or just here for the role play. Finn is obviously passionate about his work and this rubs off on the participants too.

Reviewed on 4th November 2018 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score

Haunting & intense

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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