Pin Cushion

Quirky, eccentric, brightly-coloured British comedy Pin Cushion boasts two powerful performances from Joanna Scanlan as a hunchback, on-the-spectrum mother, Lynn, and Lily Newmark as her daughter Iona.

The pair arrive in a new town in time for Iona to start school, where she’s teased as a weirdo as she tries to get in with the horrid mean girl set. Meanwhile, hermit-like Lynn makes tentative efforts to meet people in the village, only to be exploited.

It’s a cruel, claustrophobic drama with tinges of weird comedy involving porcelain figurines, a budgie, charity shop knitwear and a step-ladder.  I couldn’t bring myself to actually laugh or to like anyone on screen, which I think was the point but it makes for a curiously alienating disconnect between the twee English eccentricity in the frame and the bullied, bleak, depressed hearts at its centre. 

Despite the silver-lining of hopefulness that peeks through, the overall tone jarred with me, even as I admired director Deborah Haywood’s singular, high-contrast vision. I wish the film well but I can’t really recommend it to anyone but the most committed Brit-film supporter or to someone who thinks they’re really kooky and misunderstood.