Three friends are on a clay shooting trip in the Scottish moorlands, isolated and mucking outside in dreary weather. Though they’ve tried to escape the hectic routines of their lives in the city, they can’t quite escape their annoyance with one another.
But then everything goes awry, thanks to the accidental shooting of a gamekeeper accompanying them. As they try to grapple with the situation and what they’ve just done, their differences widen and test the fraying bonds of friendship and fraternity, even as they have to work together to get themselves out of their mess.
The set-up of “The Lost Scot” sounds almost like the beginning of a joke: What happens when a cynic, an alcoholic and an accountant get a hold of a gun? But filmmaker Julian Cornwall’s comedic short takes that premise and runs with it in an energetic, fresh direction, with terrific writing and flawless creative execution.
Much of the film’s uniqueness comes from juxtapositions. There’s the clash between characters’ personalities, which sharpen as they deal with their emergency. And there’s also the clash between the beautifully desolate (and gorgeously photographed) moorlands setting and the darkly comedic mayhem that ensues.
This is a particularly verbal comedy, mixing an outrageous and tragic situation with a running torrent of bickering and banter between three very different personalities. The dialogue, as expected, is exemplary, and brought to life by an excellent cast, who balances the comedic demands of the story with the committed collective portrayal of human pettiness, cowardice and self-interest. Each character feels true — and truly dysfunctional, which makes the increasingly outrageous situation they find themselves in all the more hilarious.
The plotting here is also excellent, especially for a short comedy, keeping the audience’s interest in what happens next as important as the firecracker verbal gymnastics. It’s all woven together with timing and pacing in the editing that has an ear for rhythm and an eye for wry visual wit. Punctuated by a famously classical score, the storyline veers into antic directions, but the film’s genius treats these narrative roundabouts with the weight of a drama — which only pays off when they reach the gamekeeper’s home and wife and reckon with their actions.
The ending of “The Lost Scot” has a few tricks up its sleeve, but it’s also the perfect grace note to a superbly executed dark comedy, which looks into the smallness of human nature and can only laugh at the foibles we can get ourselves into.
One quibble is that the craftsmanship and artistry may almost too beautifully done for the story. But then again, it may just be the perfect comment on our relationship to our own faults. We may try to put a gloss on our selfishness and pettiness, but in the end, our mistakes and poor decisions all catch up with us in one way or another.