Dark and erotic, an Oedipal romance that lingers

Posted: April 07, 2008

"I like creepy guys," says Kate Breck (Sophia Myles), in a bar, after one too many drinks, to the young lad named Hallam Foe (Jamie Bell). In Mister Foe - a pervy and poignant tale of a boy on the brink of manhood, still reeling from the death of his mother - the late-20s Kate and the just-18 Hallam tumble into a strange romance.

How strange? Well, unbenownst to her, Hallam has been spying on Kate since the very first day he arrived in the city. He's been stalking her not just because he's developed the "unedifying habit" of a Peeping Tom, but because Kate is the spitting image of his mother. Younger, of course, but eerily similar.

A dark, often funny Oedipal and erotic tale from Young Adam director David Mackenzie, Mister Foe benefits from the emotionally and physically agile performance of Bell - grown up since the hit Billy Elliot but no less committed to the character he portrays. Able to navigate the necessary social routes to gain employment and get along with coworkers, Hallam's nonetheless seriously lost in his own universe: grieving, fantasizing, plotting revenge.

He's sure his stepmother (Claire Forlani) killed his mum and made it look like suicide. And he holds his father (Ciaran Hinds) in contempt for having an affair with this "white trash gold digger" who's now part of the family.

Beautifully shot, with a melancholy, jangling pop soundtrack and a beguiling turn from actress Myles, Mister Foe is much more than just another well-made coming-of-age drama. It goes deeper, and stays longer, kicking around in your head.

Mister Foe ***1/2 (Out of four stars)

Directed by David Mackenzie. With Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Claire Forlani and Ciaran Hinds. Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 mins.

Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes)

Playing at: Prince Music Theater tonight at 7:30 p.m. and at the Bridge on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m.

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