Bryan O’Neil directs self-penned Booked Out, a quirky gem of a film that proves to be surprisingly enjoyable.
Mirren Burke stars as Ailidh, a kooky Scot who allows her imagination to run free. Though her personality confuses some, she soon befriends Jacob (Rollo Weeks), a young man whose presence in her block of flats remains unexplained for much of the film. It is the mystery that surrounds the film that provides it with much of its charm and when answers are finally revealed the emotional impact is well-played.
Ailidh’s pleasures come from the simple things in life; she enjoys her job in a small bookshop and regularly takes Polaroids of everyday situations whilst her doodles culminate in a graphic novel. Her friendship with Jacob gradually becomes stronger despite the fact neither of them share very much about themselves to one another. Their friendship allows for one of the more enjoyable scenes of the film where they dress as imaginary animals to attend a fancy dress party.
The supporting cast does well with the simple enjoyable script, Sylvia Sym’s Mrs. Nicholls being a particular highlight. Her coping mechanism for the dead Mr. Nicholls provides a few smiles at the beginning of the film but her condition soon takes a worrying turn, leaving Ailidh in a troubling situation. Red herrings abound about the identity of Jacqueline (Claire Garvey), the person Jacob spends many silent hours with, providing the film with some trajectory in an otherwise slow but pleasant story.
Booked Out is an encouraging and heartwarming debut from O’Neil, offering a well-timed and impressively acted series of events that culminate in a charming little film about life, love and dealing with loss.