Hideous Kinky

Director: Gillies MacKinnon
Screenwriters: Billy MacKinnon

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


There were always contradictions embodied by some of those who lived during the 1970s’ search for inner fulfillment. They possessed a desire to have a lifestyle that explored different worlds and cultures but sometimes neglected conventional responsibilities. Scottish director Gillies MacKinnon and glowing actress Kate Winslet capture perfectly the feckless tone of the period in this portrait of a woman and her two young children living in Marrakech.
Adapted by MacKinnon’s brother, Billy, from Esther Freud’s autobiographical novel, Hideous Kinky follows Julia and her daughters, who are hoping for a support check from their father, but essentially existing day to day. While Julia is now free from the stifling English society, her oldest craves the boundaries of a regulated life. When a charming hustler/street performer enters their circle, survival becomes increasingly nomadic and its direction unpredictable.
The romantic ideal of the kind of freedom and adventure that represented the freshest spirit of hippiedom is superbly realized in this marvelously colorful and sensual period piece. With stimulating realism and an affectionate, even nostalgic, feeling, MacKinnon paints a portrait that is thoroughly enjoyable and energetic. Winslet, the flower child, is simultaneously searching and sexy, with a performance that nails both the indulgences and appealing qualities of a woman determined to discover herself. Against a backdrop of ritual and celebration, MacKinnon combines an observant eye with a melodramatic truthfulness that will impress audiences whether they are familiar or not with this era retreating swiftly into the past.

Gillies MacKinnon, Director
Gillies MacKinnon graduated from the National Film School near London in 1986. In the past ten years, he has made nine films, including The Playboys , Small Faces , and Regeneration . The screenplay for Hideous Kinky was written by his brother, Billy MacKinnon, from the book of Esther Freud’s memoirs. This is the third film Gillies and Billy have made together.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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