Jamie Adams is an impressive filmmaker in his own right. From 2014 onward he has made seven films, four of which have been made/released within the last two years and all premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the cherry on top being the world premiere of Balance, Not Symmetry which was this years People’s Gala at the festival. Being able to get the funding, as well as actually make so many films in such a short span of time is truly impressive. So what is the downside to all of this? They aren’t very good; making little to no splash in the general consciousness and forgotten shortly after release.
However, with the involvement of Biffy Clyro, the excitement for Balance, Not Symmetry was sky high. Perhaps this could be the turn around that Adams needs?
The story follows Shirley-Caitlin Walker (Laura Harrier), an American Student living a privileged life studying at Glasgow School of Art until her father unexpectedly dies, causing her to begin questioning her life.
The film is told through a linear narrative with the overarching story shown through “experimental” means, the film split up between five minute-long silent sequences, told only through the physical acting of the performers and the music of Biffy Clyro, and sequences that allow the story to be told through a more traditional style.
With the story focussing heavily on art the experimental sections in the film could have been a great way to get the story across but instead just appear as style over substance every single time, with derivative cinematography and unique lighting that seems to come out of nowhere.
Mainly a character study for Shirley, the problem is that the films of Adams are usually improvisational, using the script as a brief outline and allowing the actors to do the rest, meaning that the character development and overarching story is all a creation of the actors themselves. Frankly, it is an unfair weight to place on the shoulders of any actor. This comes across painfully clear throughout the film as characters begin to make terrible decisions, ultimately ending with an unlikable and unrelatable lead. All of which is due to how lazy Adams is as a director.
In the end it was yet another failed attempt for Jamie Adams. There was potential there, some of which flickers through in small moments of greatness, but with those moments tending to be short, and often ruined by the end, all is left is a product which gets wrong 99% of what it is trying to do.
With the potential there the film could have been saved. Perhaps if Adams had a complete, solid script and used all of his focus on just one film a year, rather than two, then perhaps he could make a good film. But the only person who can prove such a theory is Adams himself.