London Film Festival 2011: Natural Selection (Robbie Pickering)

Fantastic debut feature by Robbie Pickering, which swept the board at the SXWX Film Festival 2011, winning not just the grand jury and audience awards for narrative feature, but also best screenplay, editing, score and breakthrough performances for its two stars.

The story begins with Linda, a devout Christian stuck in a sexless marriage due to her husband Abe’s firm belief that every sperm must be fertilised. Linda’s inability to have children means that she is often frustrated, made worse by her husband’s composure with the restriction.

Little does she know that every Thursday, Abe pays a visit to the sperm bank to make a donation. One Thursday, Abe gets a little too excited and has a stroke. Linda is immediately called to hospital and on tearfully finding out Abe’s (10-year) habit, Linda sees it as her duty to track down the child of her dying husband, so that they might meet before it’s too late.

Linda travels across Texas to track down Raymond, the man she believes to be Abe’s son, but Raymond turns out to be a drug addict and a criminal, on the run. We see him bursting out of a lawnmower bag, all covered in grass, having escaped from prison.

What follows is a strange kind of road movie, where trust grows between an unexpected pairing from the fringes of society with some twists along the way.

The script was funny and well-written and the drama was moving and life affirming, with an unexpected yet couldn’t-imagine-it-better ending. There was great chemistry between Linda (Rachel Harris) and Raymond (Matt O’Leary), with stellar acting performances from both.

The film demonstrates excellent use of limited resources, producing something of true quality! Hopefully on general release in the near future- will keep you posted!

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