Edinburgh has hardly been neglected by writers and filmmakers. But a new film is the first to put sex into the cityby Mark Cousins / September 30, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
The city in which I live, Edinburgh, hasn’t exactly been neglected by writers and filmmakers. Stroll its streets and you can see how it inspired the gothic dualism of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Go to a pub in its port, Leith, and you find yourself drinking beside characters from Trainspotting. It’s the “fur coat, nae knickers” town; it’s “auld reekie” because its 19th-century smoke made the place stink; it’s the Athens of the north; the place of innumerable literary flytings; the city where Jean Brodie told her girrrls that they were in their prrrrime; it’s the place where Ian Rankin’s Rebus threads through his labyrinth of booze.
Despite such over-determination, the capital of Scotland has never really been eroticised. Until now, that is. David Mackenzie’s new film Hallam Foe, from a book by Peter Jinks, turns Edinburgh into a Hitchcockian world of lustful observation. Just as in Vertigo, James Stewart meets a woman who resembles his apparently dead lover, and tries to turn the former into the latter, to increase, or return to, his erotic charge; so in Hallam Foe, Jamie Bell meets a woman who resembles his dead mother, spies on her having sex and, unable to help himself, partakes in scenarios in which the woman and his memories of his mother merge.