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Glasgow Film Festival 2024: The best of the rest of the fest

Glasgow Film Festival 2024: The best of the rest of the fest

Another year, another cinematic feast laid on by the Glasgow Film Festival – too many movies to review separately, alas. So here is a retrospective tasting menu…

Mother, Couch

David (Ewan MacGregor) and Gruffudd (Rhys Ifans) take their mother (Ellen Burstyn) on a simple furniture shopping trip one day; when she refuses to leave a couch, that trip takes a bizarre, hallucinatory, life-altering turn. Like something from the strange brains of Charlie Kauffman or Ari Aster (a producer on this film), Mother, Couch is difficult to summarise, but mesmerising nonetheless.

Tummy Monster

Talking of difficult to summarise … Tummy Monster follows a tattoo artist (Lorn Macdonald) and a megastar musician (Orlando Norman) over one crazy night and day in a Scottish tattoo parlour, where nothing is as it seems, and the phrase ‘Rub your tummy or I’ll think you’re an asshole” is uttered more than a hundred times. Considering the wild array of tones and tangents, it seems borderline miraculous it all comes back together so satisfyingly.


Facing an impending wedding date and a cultural tradition that demands she be a virgin, Elaha (Bayan Layla) has to figure out a way to restore her hymen, despite having little money and little support. Elaha excels at illustrating the challenges faced by young women from misogynistic cultures; how it’s not so easy to just refuse to submit when your whole life, your whole family depends on following tradition. Engrossing, devastating, and beautifully performed all round.

The Teachers’ Lounge

When a spate of thefts set the staff and pupils of her school on edge, newly qualified teacher Miss Nowak (Leonie Benesch) is thrust on top of a Jenga tower of crises that keeps getting taller and wobblier the more she tries to do the right thing. Almost unbearably tense at times, The Teachers’ Lounge is a gripping societal issue pressure cooker, with a barnstormer of a lead turn from Leonie Benesch.

Is There Any Place For Me, Please?

Eight years ago, Martina was the subject of an acid attack from her ex-boyfriend, which blinded her and left her with third-degree burns. Is There Any Place For Me, Please? sits with her in the continual struggle with her injuries, showing us her grit and struggle as she fights to create a meaningful new life for herself in the face of the horrifying injuries, and work out a way of helping others in the same situation. Inspirational is too flimsy a word.

I Don’t Know Who You Are

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After he’s assaulted on the way home from a party one night, musician Benjamin (Mark Clennon) has 72 hours to start taking the medication he needs to fend off the risk of HIV – the problem is, he can’t afford it. I Don’t Know Who You Are charts his race against the clock to find the money with both lyricism and intensity, and proves an excellent calling card for first time feature lead Mark Clennon and first time feature director, M.H. Murray.


During the Spanish Flu of 1918, a fugitive chef (Peter Saarsgard) gets employed at the home of a wealthy liberal writer (Billy Magnussen), and engineers an uprising of the fellow household staff. Using the Spanish Flu backdrop as a way of delving deep into the many thorny societal issues dredged up by Covid, and buoyed by fantastically charismatic turns from Peter Saarsgard and Billy Magnusson, Coup! is a shrewd, wickedly funny satire with the sharpest of teeth.

Le Vourdalak

You might think a vampire story where the creature was played by a puppet would undercut the horror of the situation, but in Le Vourdalak, the inanimate nature of the titular figure (who is not actually  a vampire, but close enough) just adds to the skin-crawling eeriness. Adrien Beau’s first feature takes a centuries’ old character and adds chilling new twists, resulting in a one-of-a-kind horror movie whose atmosphere lingers with you much longer than you may want it to…

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