“Palace of Fun”
Intrigue, Betrayal and Mystery
Set in Brighton, England, we meet Lilly (Phoebe Naughton), newly graduated from college. While at a club, she meets Finn (Andrew Mullen), a good looking young guy and invites him to come and stay with her at her house while her parents are on vacation in Italy for the summer. When Lily’s jealous younger brother Jamie (George Stocks) finds out that Finn is not who he claims to be, he decides to play a game to get rid of him while at the same time blackmailing him. Here is a movie filled with intrigue, mystery and betrayals that occur when stranger dares to come between brother and sister.
Not to be be outdone, jealous and vindictive brother Jamie is outdone when Lilly brings Finn home and looks for someway to change the situation. He begins to play with Finn and as he does, Finn’s secret is discovered.
Director Eadword Stocks, along with co-writer, brother and star George Stocks bring us a poetic, quiet and somewhat melancholy film that powerfully portrays how normal life often exists right alongside intrigues and secrets. We see some very dramatic incidents that are presented to us with poise, control and restraint and we get a mystery/trauma combination. Because of this restraint, it takes patience to get through the middle of the film but the ending makes every minute worthwhile. The three actors are all excellent in their roles. The direction is fine throughout, so much so, that is hard to believe that this is the first feature film that Eadword Stock has directed. His use of intertexuality is quite brilliant. We are reminded of classic films that used this technique and while there are moments that we are quite uncomfortable watching, we remember what makes for good cinema.
The weekend that Lilly and Finn were to spend together came to a quick stop when Jamie learns Finn’s “terrible” secret. It seems that he stole a kid’s bag and Jamie uses this to get Finn to perform some “uncomfortable acts”. The chemistry between the characters is amazing and it is genius to see how the relationship between Finn and Lilly becomes mundane while the relationship between Finn and Jamie is quite deep but then Jamie has the upper hand). It all ends as quickly as it began and from the moment that we know Finn’s secret, the ending becomes quite predictable… or does it? I must stop my summary here because I do not want to give anything away.
We see the extreme lengths to which young people will go to in order to keep up appearances and maintain their identities. Jamie, perfectly encapsulates the self-superiority and arrogance that comes with privilege. As secrets are revealed, we cannot avoid becoming compliant in the characters’ actions and a world where morals are questionable morals and intentions are fervent.