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The Tape review – Cornish-set folk musical bobs along like a floating flip-flop

·2-min read

English folk singer Martha Tilston pulls off an impressive hat-trick of debuts as writer, director and star of this sweet-natured and gently charming Cornish-set romance. The script might be a little threadbare and some of the acting has a here’s-a-mate-I-roped-in-to-help quality. But it bobs along like a flip flop on waves of likability, with a genuinely warm and down-to-earth performance from Tilston. She plays folk singer Tally who is disillusioned with the music industry, living out of her campervan and working – in her own words – as “Cornwall’s worst cleaner”.

What Tally really needs to respark her creativity is a room of her own (preferably with a sea view). She finally gets one by squatting in a house she’s been hired to clean – the elderly owner has recently died. Inside she finds a piano and a vintage four-track recorder, and begins making music again. When the old lady’s nephew Leo (Lee Hart) shows up, he’s so taken with Tally that he doesn’t let on he’s the new owner and instead rents a nearby fishing cottage. Leo is a corporate lawyer – though clearly not all bad, since he writes poetry and hates his job greasing the wheel of capitalism. (There really are a few too many shots of him standing in the sea, chinos rolled up, looking to the waves for answers to the meaning of life.)

Of course, you know exactly where the movie is heading – and it’s not Tally signing up for a law conversion course and moving to London. She doesn’t think a relationship with Leo can work: “He’s a corporate lawyer, I’m chaos in wellies.” In truth, both characters feel a bit underwritten. They’re in their late 30s, but nothing is said about baggage from past relationships or what they think about having kids. Still, Tilston’s performance gives it a level of watchability and her modern folk songs about love and payday loans are brilliant.

• The Tape is released on 24 September in cinemas.

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