Blessed review (DVD)

Starring the Danny Trejo of British television James Nesbitt (because he's in everything), Blessed is a touching tale of one man who loses everything he cares for in his life and becomes a shadow of his former self, only to eventually regain a part of it, take solace, and rebuild the old him.

Peter (Nesbitt) is a successful city trader with a loving family, but when he prioritises his work over a boating trip with his wife and two daughters, his life is turned upside down: a freak storm at sea takes the lives of his family. The horrific tragedy takes a man of happiness, chews him up and spits him out a broken one. Becoming a mute and living the life of a recluse on a nondescript island that he has all to himself, Peter carries on in isolation as a mundane product of routine. The only contact he has with the world across the water is with a postman who drops by on a boat once a month with mail and supplies. That is until a 10-year-old girl arrives on the island in a trunk and changes everything.

The way the little girl just appears is pretty random and it takes a while for the story to address just how she arrived, so a lot of the film consists of her just being there, looked after by Peter, saying that she's waiting for her father. And since Nesbitt's character barely speaks apart from in a lengthy flashback at the top of the film, it's ostensibly a one girl show as studying the expressions on James' face, which are for the most part frowns, grows tiresome when it goes on for so long. The only problem is the girl is a very weak actress with a rather robotic performance. What is it with child actors in the UK? We have hardly any that are good. They should all be made to analyse every frame of Rob Reiner's Stand by Me until all the woodenness oozes from their ears.

As the story progresses it becomes increasingly evident that the girl's dad isn't coming and she forms a father-daughter-type relationship with Peter, reopening a part of him that he thought had gone forever. It's really a story of lost and found.

Blessed suffers from being overlong, yet I keep reading about an 83-minute cut? I certainly would have rather seen that. Nevertheless, it's still an engaging, emotionally-charged and charming movie with confident direction and a first-rate Nesbitt, despite his prolonged silence. A perfectly pleasant watch.

EXTRAS ★ Only the trailer is featured on this release.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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