Life & Culture

Film review: Nowhere Special

This drama is full of heart


James Norton (Happy Valley, McMafia, Little Women) gives an exquisite performance in this social drama from Still Life director Uberto Pasolini — no relation to the famous Italian maestro Pier Paolo Pasolini. Set in Northern Ireland, this beautifully written, heartfelt third feature from the Italian born filmmaker is an internationally co-produced project inspired by real life events.

After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, window cleaner John (Norton) makes it his mission to find the perfect family to continue to raise his four-year-old son Michael (an impressive debut from Daniel Lamont). In the process, Michael joins his dad in a series of awkward encounters with prospective adoptive families — some more suitable than others — in the hope of doing what’s right for the child.

Although a little predictable in parts, Pasolini’s film is a great lesson in the great art of “show don’t tell” in film-making. The writer-director is able to provide just enough information in the sparse exchanges between his protagonists to advance his story without having to rely on the hackneyed tropes usually associated with this sort of narrative.

Never overstaying its welcome with too much talk, Nowhere Special does a great job in conveying the despair and frustration of a working class man determined to give his child the start he never had in life. Furthermore, the film feels like a meticulously executed two-hander between Norton and Lamont, a work which relies almost entirely on what is omitted rather than what is shared.

Pasolini’s drama is tame, but beautifully acted, and genuinely heartening. Obvious parallels can be drawn with similarly themed productions from the likes of Mike Leigh and the Dardenne brothers, but there is also something decidedly Italian neo-realist in the familiarly named director’s precise direction.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive