On its release in 2009, Spread was something of a departure from the norm – at least in terms of setting – for director David Mackenzie, co-founder of Glasgow-based Sigma Films. While Mackenzie is more commonly associated with UK-set productions, with Glasgow and Scotland in particular featuring heavily, this movie was set entirely in the USA with the majority of action taking place in the glamorous Hollywood Hills.
Ashton Kutcher stars as Nikki – a young gigolo taking advantage of the rich women of Los Angeles – opposite Anne Heche, as one of the said women Samantha.
It is when Samantha is on a business trip to New York that we see a very subtle nod to Glasgow thrown in. Entering an office building she stops to call Nikki (who, incidentally, is lazing in her swimming pool after throwing a party at her house) and behind her the wall lists the worldwide locations of the business – Glasgow is positioned prominently on the top row between Geneva and Hamburg.
There is a handful of actors who are neither Glaswegian or Scottish, but who have nonetheless found themselves working on films in Glasgow on more than one occasion. Emily Mortimer (Dear Frankie, Young Adam) is one, Bob Hoskins (Doomsday, Unleashed) another. Then there is Jamie Bell – the Teesside-born actor who first shot to fame at a young age in Billy Elliot. As previously documented here, Bell spent time in Glasgow during the production of The Eagle and more recently was in the city to shoot the forthcoming Filth. Like The Eagle, 2007’s Hallam Foe features Jamie Bell, was directed by David Mackenzie and used the fantastic Film City Glasgow in Govan as a production base and to shoot some scenes.
Bell plays the titular character in this charming and quirky film and is joined by a strong cast that includes Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds (who made his acting debut on stage in Glasgow), Jamie Sives, Claire Forlani and – no stranger to this blog – Ewen Bremner. Hallam is a somewhat troubled young man with a penchant for spying on people and serious stepmother issues following the death of his mother a couple of years previously. He leaves his father (Hinds) and the stepmother (Forlani) behind in their countryside home and heads to Edinburgh, where he spots and follows hotel HR executive Kate – who happens to be a dead ringer for his late mother – and ends up being employed by her. As the film progresses we see the eccentric Hallam come of age in various ways.
While all outdoor scenes and key indoor scenes were filmed in Edinburgh and Peeblesshire, studio filming for parts of the movie took place at Film City Glasgow, and in the DVD commentary David Mackenzie mentions that a staircase seen as the entrance to Kate’s Edinburgh flat is in fact in Glasgow.
Young Adam is a 2003 film with a strong cast headed by Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan and Emily Mortimer. It is directed by David Mackenzie, who also directed the previously featured Perfect Sense as well as some other movies with Glasgow ties that Glasgow on Film will look at in the future.
Two things stand out about Young Adam: a fair amount of sex takes place in the film, including a particularly messy scene involving McGregor, Mortimer and the contents of a kitchen; McGregor is involved in two different strands of the film and the viewer is presented with quite a twist when the link between the two becomes apparent. In fact GoF will not go into too much detail in its synopsis so as not to spoil the movie for any readers who have not seen it.
Set in 1950s Scotland – primarily along the route of the Forth and Clyde canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh but with some scenes taking place in Glasgow itself – the film follows central character Joe (McGregor), who stays on a barge with his employer Les (Mullan) and Les’ wife Ella (Swinton). The film opens with Joe and Les discovering the dead body of a young woman in a river and throughout the film there are references to the resultant investigation and court case – Glasgow’s citizens are quite appalled by the apparent murder, but Les seems proud of his part in the story and almost feels like he is entitled to celebrity status for finding the body. Les for the most part shows affection to Ella but she is disillusioned with their marriage and ends up in a number of passionate encounters with Joe, ultimately leading to separation from Les and the latter’s departure from the barge. We are also made aware of a serious relationship between Joe and Cathie (Emily Mortimer).
Young Adam is a well produced film – as mentioned above, the twist in the tale certainly took GoF by surprise. Excellent use is made of the filming locations and Glasgow shines as a bustling postwar city where industrial decline was yet to fully set in. In one scene in particular, where Joe and Cathie meet outside a book shop, St. Andrew’s Street is transformed into a 1950s set with the level of attention to detail that as viewers we experience regularly for period pieces set in the likes of London and New York, but not so often for portraying a Glasgow of yesteryear.