The Almond and the Seahorse


The career pivot. When you decide that you’ve had enough of being a postie and decide you want to be a gynaecologist instead; it makes sense, going from one delivery slot to another.

There’s a similar pivot that some actors enjoy, going from one genre to another. Take Steve Carell for instance, who has made his name and career in comedy, but has pivoted rather splendidly into more dramatic roles such as 2014’s Foxcatcher as well as the dark mini-series The Patient.

Someone hoping to make a similar transition is Australian actress Rebel Wilson, who up until this point has focused on comic roles, but dives into something far more grown up here.

boom reviews The Almond and the Seahorse
I just think a pro wrestling career is calling me.

Two women are struggling with the relationships they find themselves in, and for the very same reasons.

Sarah (Wilson) is married to Joe (Celyn Jones), who suffered an injury to his head two years ago, which is now effecting his brain, where he is struggling with his memory.

Gwen (Trine Dyrholm) was involved in a car accident 15 years ago, where her memory was also affected, to the point where she barely recognises her partner Toni (Charlotte Gainsbourg) anymore.

Both women meet at a health centre, where they take their respective partners to see the renowned specialist Dr. Falmer (Meera Syal) where they realise that they suffering in similar ways too.

boom reviews The Almond and the Seahorse
I think it's what you father would have wanted.

This small independent British film is based on the 2008 play of the same name written by Kaite O’Reilly, who also co-wrote the script here with actor Jones, who also co-directs with Tom Stern.

It is a directorial debut for both Jones and Stern, although Stern has an impressive career as a director of photography on a number of big budgeted Hollywood films such as American Sniper and Sully.

There greenness as directors however is an issue; their handling of the source material from stage to screen isn’t great, with many of the performances still aimed at a stage, meaning that they are horribly amplified on screen. Because of that, many of them lack any nuance and subtlety, with Wilson’s suffering the most.

It would be so easy to blame the actress, considering her lack of experience in more dramatic offerings, but even a seasoned pro such as Gainsbourg is struggling, with the finger of blame firmly pointed back to the debut directors.

In fact Jones, who was so very watchable in the recent Swede Caroline, probably struggles with being a writer, director and actor on this production, because the film overall suffers from it. The script is embarrassingly clunky in places and the direction lacking cohesion; for instance, Syal’s doctor is portrayed like some kind of UK version of High Laurie’s House, as a difficult yet brilliant mind. Unfortunately, there is no indication of her brilliance whatsoever, making her appearance totally redundant.

There are two performances however, that just about hold the film together, which are from Dyrholm and Jones himself. Between them they deliver quite brilliant takes on individuals struggling with a mental disease that almost makes the film worthwhile, with both brimming with vulnerability and confusion.

A film with best intentions then, but just poorly executed throughout.

And as far as Wilson is concerned, it was possibly the perfect role to test out the dramatic waters, because being such a small, independent film, very few are going to see how bad she is in it, which may well be a lifeline if she wants to continue being serious in film going forward.

we give this two out of five