After a one night stand Pamela (Bronagh Gallagher), a divorced mother of one, is surprised to find that she is pregnant again - an event she was told could not happen. As her daughter Allegra (Lola Pettigrew) tries to deal with the fact she has a new sibling on the way, her social life takes an interesting turn.
The title of 'A Bump Along the Way' does such a perfect job of summarising this film. Although there is plenty of drama, there is no melodrama here - no smashing of plates or screaming. Characters have their tiffs and their arguments and in the next scene, they are back on talking terms trying to deal with things the best they can.
Even though it takes its cues from kitchen sink dramas, it does feel like something unique, there is no killing of kestrels or gin-based abortions, it is social realism taken to the next level. It proves true the old adage that you can tell more truth in fiction than you can with a documentary. Admittedly it could sound boring but everything is kept so tight that it really is captivating.
Each character feels fully fleshed out and real. It does the rare feat of what film should do more often and gives us a very intimate portrayal - it really doesn’t feel like you are looking at actors.
It also makes you wonder why you don’t see more of Gallagher, it feels there is an untapped well of talent that doesn’t get used near often as it should. Her portrayal of Pamela is perfectly observed. We’ve all got someone like her in our life, the auntie that never quite settled down. The older cousin that wasn’t quite a hippy but flirted with Buddhism. So you have a sense of the character without ever being told too much. I’ve already seen her described as "boozy" which is to misrepresent the character. She likes a drink, she doesn’t drink to keep boredom away. She is broadly happy with her life, even if it's not all going to plan.
Tess McGowan has delivered a blinder of a script. It is also the type of script that can only be written as a debut, before writers realise it is much easier to just churn out the same hackneyed tripe or learn to be less original to get things through the pipeline easier. The dialogue is so naturalistic that it must in part be semi-improvised. Either that or McGowan has an ear for dialogue that is scarcely unparalleled.
It is also a directorial debut and I don’t know where Shelly Love gets her instincts from but she guides things with such an unerring sense of ease that many would kill for. It is clear that she has cut her teeth in theatre before moving into film. I wonder if her previous work has been located in small intimate spaces as she’s got a great sense for them and a real special eye for the small things in life.
This is the sort of film I love cinema for, a beautiful little surprise, much like the titular bump, I expect big things from everyone involved.