Four adult siblings - - Thomas (Gary Lewis), Michael (Douglas Henshall), John (Stephen McCole) and the wheelchair-bound Sheila (Rosemarie Stevenson) - - gather round their mother's coffin in their Glasgow family home. During the night that follows, the bereaved are separated from each other and, struggling to cope with their grief, undergo bizarre experiences that threaten to tear the family apart.
Impressively directed by Peter Mullan, who played the recovering alcoholic in Ken Loach's My Name Is Joe, Orphans is a moving and darkly amusing study of grief-fuelled rage and sibling rivalries. Deftly juggling his various storylines, and coaxing some heartfelt performances from his cast, Mullan evokes a sense of the surreal in everyday life, not least with the dungeon scenes in the Hangman's Pub.
As a searching foray into Scottish working-class existence and culture, this is vastly superior to the recent Irvine Welsh adaptation The Acid House. Here you can sense a genuine compassion on the part of creator Mullan towards his characters, culminating in a conclusion which holds out the possibility of some progression for those concerned.