Restless Natives


‘…one of the better examples of the brief rush of Scottish movies in the 80’s…’

A fresh blu-ray and digital release for the first day of Spring 2021, Michael Hoffman’s free-wheeling cult classic has been a staple in its homeland since the days of VHS, much mutilated for television screenings in daytime slots, now restored to fine fettle on all formats. Fuelled by anger about the rule of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Restless Natives took the whimsical charm of Bill Forsyth and moves it a stage further politically; the natives are restless with reason in Hoffman’s film, and Scots rise up by committing Robin Hood-style crimes which undermine the authorities, particularly since the tourists being robbed seem to love the experience. While not overtly reflective of any specific political movement, (there’s jokey references to the Scottish Liberation Group and the Caledonian National Front) Restless Natives is one of the better examples of the brief rush of Scottish movies in the 80’s.

Vincent Friell (Will) and Joe Mullaney (Ronnie) are industrious Edinburgh youths who find it hard to improve their lot; working out of a joke shop, they utilise masks and motorbikes to head into the Scottish countryside where they begin a campaign of wealth redistribution by robbing coach-loads of American tourists of their money, jewellery and valuables. Amongst their victims is imported US star Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Superman) as a CIA man, who joins forces with a gruff Scottish cop (Robert Urquhart) to bring the twosome to justice. Will’s dalliance with a feisty Scots lass (Teri Lally, the It girl of Scottish cinema of the time) threatens to blow their cover, but their fresh status as local heroes provides a cover for one last raid…

Restless Natives did good business in Scotland, largely because of a series of strong calculations. Ken Russell noted that British cinema drastically underused landscapes; Hoffamn makes no such error, and fully restored, Restless Natives looks stunning, capturing the area around Glencoe in full unspoiled majesty. Another savvy move was the use of a score by Big Country and Stuart Adamson, which ably matches the soaring visuals and lifts the film during the many cops and robbers chases, which are wisely played for laughs throughout. Hoffman’s career flourished beyond this in Hollywood (One Fine Day, The Last Station), and this re-issue features an audio commentary with Hoffman plus producer Andy Paterson and writer Ninian Dunnett, plus an engaging documentary about the film’s making, plus a trailer and stills.

Restless Natives may not be remembered quite as clearly as Gregory’s Girl or Local Hero, but it’s got a certain place in Scottish film history when making films wasn’t the preserve of unaccountable government agencies, and the successes and failures were largely due to actual enterprise. ‘I’m not into enterprise, just sticking the boot in,’ one character remarks; a football covered with a latex mask of Thatcher’s face tells you what you need to know about where Restless Natives was coming from. The central characters here may be dafties, but Restless Natives firmly expects the audience to root for them, and it could be argued the sub-text is embryonic Scottish nationalist, somewhat ahead of the game for the despairing times of 1985.

RESTLESS NATIVES is available to buy on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 1st March 2021.

Thanks to Lisa Richards PR and Studio Canal for access to this restoration.



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  1. Dafties are a completely separate category to numpties and I am glad you made the distinction and we should be grateful to Shuggie Bain for introducing the Booker-~Award-reading world to various Glasgow colloquialisms which should open up new territory for Restless Natives.

    • It’s fun, and not all 80’s movies work today, but this has great scenery and a refreshingly amoral vibe.

  2. I often feel I need to fix my knowledge of Scotland as I spent too much time under the Monty Python wing that probably lead me to imagine, unfortunately, that traditional scottish folk were either created by alien rays, and/or that their poetry was mostly requests for financial assistance. I have gotten through an Irving Welsh book – I think, but failed to enjoy a story in which a baby became inhabited by a grown lout. There, that’s my tour de force. Help a Yank out.

    • ‘ traditional scottish folk were either created by alien rays, and/or that their poetry was mostly requests for financial assistance…’

      There. You’ve got it in one. That’s the key information, accept no substitutes. This film is one of the more accurate films about how the Scots might see themselves, and it’s quite Ok to skip Irvine Welsh, as Scottish as his name might sound….

    • No, that one is truly dreadful, The Stone of Destiny, that film is an utter disgrace. Canadian co-production….tone deaf to Scots!

        • Hmmm…any connection between that magazine and the film’s funders? Only rational explanation. Didn’t Stone close Toronto film festival? I’m surprised it didn’t close it permanently….

          • I guess it did close TIFF that year. The only time I ever went to that festival was when I was in school in Toronto and I went to see the Midnight Movies. I caught the world premiere of Hellraiser 2. My sole claim to movie-watching fame.

            I haven’t seen Stone of Destiny, so my understanding of Scots as vandals and vagabonds has to be taken on hearsay for now.

            • There’s a feedback loop worldwide of publically funder films screening at publically funded cinemas and festivals, to great acclaim by publically funded critics. The public are generally not involved at all, so no breakout successes can come of it, even if the films are good, which they generally are not. It’s just fake news, long before Trump came along, media events created to justify a pretence…

              Stone of Destiny is appalling dreck, an insult to Scots, and a film to be forgotten by the three who saw it…

              • If you think that feedback loop is bad for cinema you should try looking at the publishing world . . .

                Since you’re running the world wide web’s pre-eminent Scottish film blog (that I know of) I think you have a duty to review SoD.

                • It’s a hot-potato right now, but our SNP govt plays by the same rules as Labour and Conservative; ie no political content in Scottish films. Which is ironic since the films that kicked all this off (Braveheart, Rob Roy) were decidedly political. It’s seemingly part of a grand plan to suppress Scottish voices.

                  I can exclusively reveal that when I review SOD, it’ll be in the No Award section…

                  • My blog is not a Scottish film blog, any more than Alex’s blog is a Leprechaun blog, it’s just one of a number of subjects we cover…

                  • It’s a shame that he seems so embarrassed about carrying the flag for Scottish film criticism. I’ll admit, I sometimes read his reviews and think “Is this really the very best Scotland has?” but then I try to make allowances for, you know . . .

                    • Right, Bunty, straight red for you, off! How dare you come on my blog and insult me and my proud nation?

                    • I’m not the one running a Scottish film blog trying to deny I’m running a Scottish film blog. You should be wearing that tartan with pride.

                    • I do. You run a leprechaun film blog, why doesn’t it say that on your passport?

                    • That’ll be the reason no-one talks about your blog, then, Bunty! Hahah!

                    • Right, a rare second consecutive red and three match ban for you, fraggle! I am a proud Scot, and feature positive reviews of Scottish movies. I don’t pad things out with leprechauns and kitchen utensils. Just because my blog of soaring like Lady Gaga and yours is in the motorbike shop with Bradley Cooper! You guys are just jealous! Fake news!

                    • A Scottish valentine’s card is what you’ll be staunching your wounds with, pal, if you keep this up. I’ll smash your melt in. And that’s a promise, sunny Jim.

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