Consistently described as quirky and droll, Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth mastered the art of the unexpected with the release of his first film, That Sinking Feeling, the episodic moral tale of an unemployed band of urban Glasgow youths trying to unload a stolen shipment of kitchen basins. As with his subsequent films, the story is a comedy with the underpinnings of a moral tale from which the film's youthful protagonists will learn a lesson or two about life.
Forsyth entered the film industry at age 17 after he was hired as the assistant to a documentary filmmaker. From this director, Forsyth was able to learn about all aspects of film productions. In the late '60s, Forsyth briefly attended the national Film School and then worked as an assistant editor at the BBC before returning to Glasgow to break ties with the documentary director. By that time, Forsyth decided he wanted to make more personal films. His sophomore effort, Gregory's Girl (1980), followed the offbeat romance between a painfully shy local football (soccer) hero and the young woman who joins his team. The director's third film, Local Hero (1983), is his best-known film and exemplifies Forsyth's original style. A gentle comedy rich with melancholy undertones, it is the story of a Texas oil tycoon who endeavors to buy a small Scottish coastal village that sits atop a vast reserve of untapped oil in the North Sea. Forsyth's first American film, Housekeeping, starring Christine Lahti as an eccentric wanderer who profoundly impacts the lives of her two nieces, is similarly laced with humor and pathos. His most ambitious and yet least successful film is Robin Williams' vehicle Being Human, an ambitious but uneven and snail's-paced look at romance through the ages.