Iona | Ruth Negga shines as a woman haunted by the past in Scott Graham's Hebridean drama

Iona Ruth Negga
(Image credit: © The Movie Partnership)

Iona Ruth Negga

Guilt and secrets on a Hebridean island

Ruth Negga plays a woman who flees with her 15-year-old son (Ben Gallacher) to the Scottish island of her troubled childhood, burning their car en route. What brought about their flight? And why are relations between Negga’s Iona and her foster-father (Douglas Henshall) and his daughter (Michelle Duncan) so strained?

Writer-director Scott Graham takes his time providing the answers, dropping a hint here and a flashback there. Indeed, things move so slowly and sombrely that the unfolding drama is as dour as porridge. The acting is good, however, and so is the photography, which makes striking use of the Hebridean landscapes (Negga’s character shares a name with the island). But the end result is much less compelling than Graham’s debut film, 2012’s Shell.

Certificate 15. Runtime 85 mins. Director Scott Graham

Iona debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Sunday 23 April and is available on DVD from Verve Pictures.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.