I often tell myself that if I lived on the Riviera I’d soon tire of the constant sunshine. Not another nice day, I’d moan, as I sat on the beach dreaming of rain. I’m not sure it’s true, and watching Fossil reminds just how sunny, blue and unEnglish everything is in the South of France. The film was shot at the height of summer and with the vivid French backdrop the filmmakers are already winning before the hired Golf arrives at the villa and the story begins.
Fossil brings to this verging-on-perfect part of the world the holidaying English couple Camilla and Paul. Played by John Sackville, Paul is a No-no-no-not-at-all type of Englishman. I’m sure you’ve met dozens of similar fellows, though this one swears more than most. Maybe he has reason – he is a writer struggling to finish a book whilst Edith Bukovic’s Camilla is his bored English wife with no interest in his work and little love for him at all. Her occupation is not developed, but their staid unhappiness is contrasted with the free spirited bonhomie of Gallic-American couple Richard and Julie who they discover swimming in their pool after a trip to the local village.
Logic isn’t the key building block used by writer, director and producer Alex Walker. Instead of apologising and leaving, the strangers stay for supper. Richard (Grant Masters) is a tattooed smoker whose laid-back presence reinvigorates Camilla – she invites him and his younger girlfriend Julie (Carla Juri) to stay the night. They end up staying for days, somehow able to exist without their luggage whilst willingly changing their plans to stay with some grumpy English people. Having spent plenty of time with grumpy English people, (and even been a grumpy English person myself every now and again), I know that that is not a place you would willingly stay if you had an escape. As they have a room in a local hotel and the sort of relationship that demands a double bed and privacy it seems a strange choice.
But stay they do and they are the catalyst for the further disintegration of Paul and Camilla’s relationship. Masters and Bukovics show Camilla and Richard’s unusual relationship plausibly though that of Paul and Julie feels more forced. The third reel brings a change of direction that alters the English couple’s relationship. People may behave differently on holiday, but how far does that go? Do shared activities bring people together – no matter what they are?
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Fossil starts as a well-observed examination of a failing British relationship. It segues into an unlikely thriller, but all through it has the attraction of the beautiful French countryside and weather. There’s very little French spoken, but with lingering close ups of architecture and landscape it might well make you reconsider where you’re going on holiday this year.
Fossil is out on DVD on April 28th