Glasgow Film Festival: Tummy Monster (2024)

Director: Ciaran Lyons

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Starring: Lorn Macdonald, Orlando Norman, Michael Akinsulire, Dawn Sievewright, Gudrun Roy

Making his feature film debut, co-writer/director Ciaran Lyons opens with the sight of Tales (Lorn Macdonald) struggling to word an apology. After being kicked out by his partner, the tattoo artist is living in his shop while trying to patch things up over text message. His thought process is interrupted when he receives a call from an unknown number, as Truth (Michael Akinsulire) requests an immediate tattoo for his celebrity client.

After quickly cleaning up his shop, Tales is starstruck at discovering the client is world-famous musician, Tummy (Orlando Norman). The tattoo artist wishes to take a selfie with the client, hoping that such an image will impress his daughter, although his request is denied by the musician. Tensions rise as Tales does not respect Tummy's wishes, refusing to let this go as he believes that his request is rather reasonable. This leads the pair into a bizarre game that neither side intends to back down from.

While the story is driven by low-stakes elements, it makes for a compelling watch due to Lyons exceptionally handling the mounting tension. One line is repeatedly used to great effect, with the repetition revealing more about these characters and the lengths they are willing to take. Even at the risk of losing money due to cancelling appointments or breaking contracts, it is clear that neither side wishes to give in. In the middle of this standoff between overgrown children is Truth, the only adult in the situation who is becoming frustrated.

Adding to the stress is Tales' attempts at keeping his life from imploding, yet each decision digs himself deeper into a hole of his own making. This works in tandem with Macdonald's tremendous performance to convey how this character is both self-reflective and also self-destructive. While the scenario offers the central pair a chance to better know each-other, it is clear that Tales' interests are in using the client's fame as clout instead of knowing the person behind the celebrity sheen. From the excellent performances to the tremendously crafted scenario, Tummy Monster is a fantastic work that promises impressive careers for all involved.

Tummy Monster previously played at Glasgow Film Festival