Director: Jenni Townsend
Cast: Jenni Townsend, Martin Haddow, Tony Townsend
Making its world premiere at the Female Eye Film Festival, The Pull is writer and director Jenni Townsend’s film debut. It’s a romantic comedy starring Townsend as Olivia, a woman who is on a constant search for a place to call home. What she really seems to want, though, is what most people want, to be “Normal”. She tries to find and define what is normal through her search for a place to call home, failing to realize that normal is just what you’re used to.
Olivia is the wandering child of wandering parents. Whether it is by nature or nurture, probably both, she always feels the pull to move and travel. She is forced to slow down when she has to move to Glasgow to take care of her father Ian (Tony Townsend), played by Townsend’s real father. Ian is not as available for nursing as Olivia expected, so she ends up meeting and developing a relationship with Sean (Martin Haddow), a local Glaswegian whose views of home and life differ from the way Olivia thinks and lives her life.
Olivia is looking for a home, have you seen one? It seems like a very hard thing to find. She’s been chasing it all her life and still hasn’t found it. Maybe it doesn’t exist, at least not the way she has decided to define it. Throughout the movie, Olivia is emotionally conflicted and tries to find a home that she feels she never had growing up. This leads to resentment towards her father, but when she confronts him about it and his absence, he points out that she is also constantly on the move and is equally unavailable. Most, if not all, of her unhappiness and conflict seems to come from the fact that her life style conflicts with how she sees most people living.
Humans are social beings, who instinctively want to follow the crowd. There’s safety in numbers and not just for physical protection. Groups can also provide emotional support, providing confidants and guidance, particularly on acceptable and unacceptable behavior determined by generations of experience. The downside of communal living can be the tendency to forget that individuals are unique with unique experiences, thus leading to the common reaction of fearing anything that is different. Townsend does not give us a fairy tale ending by resolving Olivia’s conflict. She leaves it open ended; staying true to life, which is a journey, not a destination.
The film is as independent as they come, being completely funded by Townsend and the film’s producer and editor, Christa Markley. The script, while somewhat predicable and not completely original, is well written and the cast is great. Haddow and Townsend have great chemistry and are so talented it’s hard to believe that they are following a script. When asked by an audience member, though, during the post-screening Q and A, Townsend confirmed that there was no improvisation. The script is as funny as Townsend is in person and perfectly showcases how talented she is, especially when you consider that she managed to write, shoot, and produce the film in 9 months. The real star of the movie though is Glasgow. Townsend “Designed [it] to be a love letter to the city” and it’s easy to see why. All the music is performed by local musicians from Glasgow and, as another audience member pointed out, perfectly fits each scene in the movie and helps to transport you to the beautiful city. I applaud the Female Eye Film Festival for continuing to provide a platform for up and coming talent, such as Townsend, and for awarding the film the Best Foreign Feature award.
Jenni Townsend was born in Melbourne, Australia and is an actor, comedian, and filmmaker. She attended Florida State University College of Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts, where she met Christa Markley, the producer of The Pull.