What I Watched Last Night: Albatross (2011)

Hello, Persephoneers! I have a perfect movie for you if you want something light and sentimental with just a dash of substance. It’s the film Albatross, released in 2011, and stars Jessica Brown Findlay, Felicity Jones, Sebastian Koch, and Julia Ormond. The film was directed by Niall MacCormick and the script was written by Tamzin Rafn, who based the story on some of the experiences she had as a teenager.

Albatross tells the story of two very different young women, Emelia (Brown Findlay) and Beth (Jones), who are each on the brink of adulthood. Emelia is a high-school dropout who lives with her grandparents and who works two jobs while trying to write her own novel, just like her supposed ancestor, Arthur Conan Doyle. Beth is the college-bound daughter of a novelist, Jonathan Fischer (Koch), who hasn’t produced anything in years. Her mother, Joa (Ormond), runs the hotel and raises their daughters while Jonathan is trying to write his next novel. Emelia, who works at the hotel as a cleaner, soon becomes close friends with Beth and encourages Beth, who has always been the dutiful daughter, to rebel against some of her mother’s rules. Jonathan also begins to give Emelia creative writing lessons, and an illicit attraction between the two develops when Jonathan takes Emelia to see Conan Doyle’s grave.

Albtaross poster
Film poster for Albatross. Image via Wikipedia.

Emelia accompanies Beth to her interviews at Oxford, and after a wild night of partying during which Beth hooks up with one of the men, the two return to Beth’s dorm room to find out that her interview has been moved to that day. Emelia is prepared to do the interview for Beth, who is hungover, but Beth ends up doing the interview on her own and leaves feeling quite confident in herself for perhaps the first time in her life. Emelia realizes that her friendship with Beth and her own goals are more important than anything else, and she begins to distance herself from Jonathan, as she sees that he has not made any effort to get past the accomplishment of publishing one book and living his life beyond that.

One of the biggest things that I liked about this film was the contrast between the two main characters, Emelia and Beth, and how they both changed each other. Beth has absolutely no self-confidence at the beginning and thinks that she can make her family situation better by being the best daughter she can be and living up to her parents’ expectations. Emelia, on the other hand, has a dream that she wants to fulfill and a certain amount of freedom to do so, yet it’s clear that her mother’s suicide has left her wanting a family more like Beth’s and an opportunity to leave her small seaside town. Both girls have something that the other one would like to have, but these things are both holding the girls back. It’s letting go of these weights, these albatrosses around their necks, that helps them to be able to enter the world and embrace their dreams and goals.

Albatross is currently available on Netflix Instant and on DVD.

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