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AT THE MOVIES: I SPY A CULT SMASH; HALLAM FOE (18, 96mins).

Byline: MARK ADAMS

THE STARS: Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds, Claire Forlani, Ewen Bremner.

THE STORY: Hallam Foe (Bell), 17-year-old son of a Scottish businessman, has retreated into a fantasy world following the death of his mother. He is convinced she was murdered by his stepmother (Forlani) and spends his time spying on people from the treehouse where he stores mementoes of mum. He's obsessed with Kate (Myles), who look just like her.

THE VERDICT: This engaging Scots rites-of-passage tale is brimming with oddball moments and streaks of dark humour, and is an unrepentantly enjoyable left-of-centre film experience. It features terrific performances from Jamie Bell (whose debut in Billy Elliott seems such a long time ago) as the confused and rather strange Hallam, and from the excellent Sophia Myles, who deserves to be a big star. Their on-screen chemistry is sizzling and the sex scenes sensually staged. The film, from a novel by Peter Jinks, is beautifully presented by writer-director David Mackenzie, who creates a startling sense of atmosphere.

At moments you think it's going to drift off into sicko territory, but in the end it is all admirably controlled and stylish.

It's an almost impossible film to classify as it contains elements of romance and mystery, while layering in drama and comedy alongside the traumatic coming-of-age moments.

The cool soundtrack, lush photography and wacky animated titles all help Hallam Foe become one of the cult films of the year so far.

FINAL CUT

Quirkily enjoyable and a refreshingly change from superheroes, cartoon characters and spies. ****

Opens Friday, August 31

CAPTION(S):

Sizzling chemistry... Jamie Bell and Sophia Myles in Hallam Foe
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 26, 2007
Words:273
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