Staff Review: Pin Cushion

Posted 13 July 2018 about Pin Cushion and Pin Cushion + Q&A.


Our very own Showroom staff member Billy Barnell reviews Deborah Haywood's first full-length feature film, 'Pin Cushion'.


You’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘Pin Cushion’, the new film by British writer/director Deborah Haywood, was her second or third feature. In fact, it’s her debut. The story of a mother and daughter who move to the town of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, ‘Pin Cushion’ is a delightfully idiosyncratic gem of a movie.

The film concerns itself with mother Lyn (Joanna Scanlan) and daughter Iona (Lily Newmark), who are attempting to settle into a new home in a new town. Iona goes off to school every day, leaving eccentric Lyn to fend for herself in the passively hostile world that is Swadlincote. They have a pet budgie of seventeen years, sleep in the same bed and call one another “Dafty One” and “Dafty Two”. They seem more like friends than family and as Iona befriends the popular “Mean Girls” of the school, her mother begins to feel increasingly isolated, ultimately drawing herself into a fantasy world of her own devising.

One of the reasons the film works so well is the excellent performances of the main actresses. Scanlan is undeniably sympathetic yet alienating as Lyn and she imbues the character with an impressive physical presence, lending heft to her flatfooted, hunchbacked gait. Newmark has something of a young Shelly Duvall about her and she radiates more than a little of the surreal quality that Duvall brought to her roles. Similar to Sissy Spacek, Newmark’s features are both striking and ever so slightly bizarre, almost depending on the light. In fact, like Spacek’s ‘Carrie’, the torment Iona receives from the more conventionally “pretty” girls becomes believable based on Newmark’s great performance.

Haywood clearly understands how to get the best out of her cast and crew. One of the movie’s key strengths is the cinematography by Nicola Daley, who infuses the frame with frosty blues, velvety reds and dappled golds, giving it a feel reminiscent of Matt Ross’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ or Taika Waititi’s ‘Hunt for The Wilderpeople’. 'Pin Cushion' is a bright and exciting work from a fresh, new voice and should be seen by anyone with their fingers on the pulse of independent cinema.


See 'Pin Cushion' here from Friday 13th July. We'll be joined by Deborah Haywood and Joanna Scanlan for a special screening + Q&A on Sunday 15th July!

Billy Barnell

Billy works as a CSA (customer service assistant) at the Showroom and has a passion for film!Read more posts by Billy Barnell

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