A coming-of-age movie that’s not quite sure whether it wants to be a comedy or drama, Albatross is set in a small family-run hotel called the Cliff House on England’s south coast. There, studious young Beth (Jones) lives with her mother Joa (Julia Ormond), little sister, and father Jonathan (Koch), a writer who made his name with a book set at the hotel but has yet to come up with a successful follow-up. Into their lives comes Emilia (Brown Findlay), an outspoken force of nature disguised as a 17-year-old. She’s hired as a cleaner, but has aspirations to write, so it’s not long before she is spending time with Jonathan up in his writer’s garrett, while also teaching new friend Beth about living life on the wild side.
Unfortunately, attention shifts awkwardly from Beth to Jonathan and to Emilia throughout the movie, so you’re never quite sure who you should have sympathy and interest for. It would have been better for the spotlight to have been focused on Emilia as she is the most fascinating character, and she’s played superbly by Brown Findlay (best known for her role in Downton Abbey) in a truly breakthrough performance. All in all, it’s a nice if uneven movie that flounders with a cop-out happy ending, but one well worth seeing for Brown Findlay’s terrific performance.
Is Albatross suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...