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The Crack Magazine

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Restless Natives on DVD, Bluray and Digital Download

The years have been kind to Scottish comedy ‘Restless Natives’ which, on its release in 1985, was met with reviews ranging from indifferent to harsh. It was pretty successful in Scotland though.

Taking its cues from the critical acclaim and commercial success of Bill Forsyth whose charming ‘Gregory’s Girl’ and ‘Local Hero’ pointed a way forward for Scottish film, it tells the tale of Will (Vincent Friel) and Ronnie (Joe Mullaney), a hapless duo living on a housing estate in Edinburgh. Ronnie works in a joke shop, while Will is barely scraping by on part-time work. Seeing the amount of money tourists are bringing in to Scotland they hatch a plan. Donning a werewolf and a clown mask and armed with a puffer gun loaded with sneezing powder, they begin holding up coachload of tourists en route to the Highlands, before making their escape on motorcycle. Soon these latter-day Rob Roys have become a hit with locals and, ironically, a tourist attraction themselves. Then holidaying CIA Agent Fritz Bender (the ever excellent Ned Beatty) joins the police investigation and things start heating up for the lads.

It’s not perfect: there’s a fine line between endearingly naïve protags and tiresome idiots which our heroes occasionally cross, but there are some great supporting turns from the aforementioned Beatty, and Bernard Hill as Will’s dad, critical of his son, but amusingly enamoured of the hold-up merchants. The soundtrack by Big Country (their guitars sounded like bagpipes!) is bracingly jaunty and invests the duo with a suitably mythical feel, and the sequence with the policeman in the joke shop is one for the ages.

Accompanying documentary ‘A Restless Retrospective: Creating a Caledonian Classic’ serves as an illuminating reminder of how seat-of-the-pants British filmmaking could be in the pre-Lottery early 80s, and includes some interesting factoids, such as how a family tartan was part of Beatty’s fee.

Restless Natives is available on Blu-ray DVD and Digital platforms from 1st March.

 

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