It's difficult to make hobbies involving countryside observation sexy. Trainspotting had to follow heroin addicts to sustain a feature-length runtime. But it's a challenge embraced by one film playing at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival. Pelican Blood, based on the cult novel of the same name, is all about bird watching – sort of – but it's still as sexually charged as an average episode of Skins.
How is this apparently impossible feat achieved? By avoiding the bird watching bit, mostly. Harry Treadaway is the twitcher we follow, but his curious hobby only rarely comes into a coming of age tale, which divides itself between Britain's expansive countryside and London's grey urban sprawl.
Treadaway plays Nikko with all the swagger of Liam Gallagher as he traipses across fields and through forests with a pair of friends to snag sightings of some 500 different species of bird – a number he's edging ever closer to. Their Yoko is Nikko's former squeeze, Stevie (Emma Booth), who prefers dark bedrooms and darker talk, of suicide and sex and animal rights. His friends think she's bad news, and all evidence suggests she is, but Nikko remains drawn to Stevie's sexual magnetism, and will follow her anywhere, even to their deaths. Meanwhile, his flagrant disregard for responsibility is irking his sister, who became the victim of her brother's cries for help when she walked in on his last suicide attempt and ended up with a knife in the arm.