2007, cert 15, running time 107 minutes
Director: Jan Dunn
Jack (Bob Hoskins) is consumed by guilt and past regret. He is hated by his son and abused by local youths. The death of his wife leaves Jack lost and alone in his self loathing. Hope arrives in the unlikely form of eight year old, Florrie, when she moves in next door and delights in Jack's neglected racing pigeons, unwittingly rekindling his own love for the birds. When his glamorous French neighbour, Stephanie (Josiane Balasko) takes pity on him, Jack cannot help but fall for her charms. When gradually his innocent friendship with Florrie is thrown into question when the girl goes missing and Stephanie reveals a well kept secret, Jack's life is thrown into turmoil.
Starring Bob Hoskins, Josiane Balasko, Jody Latham, Josef Altin and Jessica Stewart.
"A fine example of micro-budget indigenous film-making, Ruby Blue sees director Jan Dunn build on the success of 2006's Gypo with another low-key story set on the Kent coast. Dispensing with that flick's Dogme 95 trappings, Ruby tells of a pigeon-racing widower (Hoskins) whose budding romance with his new French neighbour (Balasko) is imperilled when his relationship with a young girl (Jessica Stewart) is misconstrued. Modest, thoughtful and gently humorous, it's a home-grown gem that's worth seeking out.
Dunn's blend of the scripted and the improvised inevitably invites comparisons with Mike Leigh, as does her focus on what she has called "the harsh reality of lower-class suburban isolation." In reality, though, Ruby is far more tightly scripted than Leigh's oeuvre, revolving as it does around one key revelation and a certain amount of rather unlikely contrivance. It also feels noticeably less caricatured, although that is as much down to Hoskins and Balasko's well-rounded and heartfelt performances as it is to the director's pensive and compassionate screenplay.
POIGNANT CHARACTER STUDY
Okay, so the slightly dour visuals won't make you put Thanet on your list of potential vacation spots, while the ending feels a little too neat and cosy given all the trials that Hoskins' character is forced to endure. On the whole, though, this poignant character study is a real find that deserves a much wider release than the small art house roll-out.. Kudos, too, to KT Tunstall for giving the project a pair of tracks for its opening and closing titles."
BBC Movies online - 4 out of 5 stars
"Bittersweet to the core, Ruby Blue is director Jan Dunn's follow-up to Gypo. Hoskins is pigeon trainer Jack, a depressed widower who finds solace in the company of 8 year-old neighbour Florrie. Hunted by the narrow-minded community who fail to see the innocence in their bond, Jack builds a relationship with the mysterious Stephanie (Balasko), which is in turn threatened by a secret he finds hard to accept. The strong, understated cast, including the promising Jody Latham as wayward teen Ian, makes this slow building story into a personal and occasionally heart-rending piece of film. Far from seeming creepy or inappropriate, Jack's friendships with Florrie and Ian give hope against a backdrop of mob mentality and degrading social values. The naturalistic script gave a sense of realism, but the odd use of incidental music is distracting at times.
Verdict: A hard hitting but hopeful British drama with a pared down performance from Bob Hoskins."
"A warmly human story about loneliness, love and life in the raw"
• Format: PAL
• Region: Region 0
• Number of discs: 1
• Classification: 15
• Studio: Guerilla Films
• Run Time: 107 minutes. Extras 20 minutes.