Teen voyeur Hallam Foe spies on the neighborhood – including his new stepmother – before finally being sent off to the big city to make something of himself. There, he picks up his old habits while struggling to put the death of his mother behind him and find his way in the world.
Hallam (Jamie Bell) is a troubled teen who becomes unglued following the death of his mother. Blaming his new stepmother (Claire Forlani), he retreats into himself and his old treehouse and spends the years watching the world pass him by from a distance. When his father decides it’s time for him to stake his own claim, Hallam is sent off to London to fend for himself. He finds his way to a job, stalks a beautiful woman who he convinces to sleep with him and generally makes a mess of an already troubled life. A busboy by day and a rooftop running voyeur by night, he watches his life unfold more than he really lives it himself.
This is a film that tries really hard to be important. It’s expertly done and at times borders on beautiful, but at its core it’s the story of an unhinged peeping Tom with an Oedipal complex. The characters are largely unlikeable as well, so it’s hard to care what happens to them – or even want them to be happy in the first place. Hallam seeks out a woman who looks like his mother and stalks her while spying on everyone around him and basically playing the role of a spoiled misogynistic teenager. His father abandons his son at the request of his stepmother and casts him from a life of luxury into being a homeless drifter. Hallam’s “girlfriend” finds time to squeeze him in while dating a married man. There’s really no hero to get behind.
An interesting study in human weakness and obsession, this is a story that is well told without being a story which needed to be told. Technically, the film is great: the direction and acting are great and apart from some clumsy exchanges here and there the writing is solid. But ultimately, it’s really hard to care about any of it or figure out what the point was supposed to be.