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John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
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Uncompromising drama that borders on voyeuristic at times
A young family moves from London to a remote country house. The young son suspects that his sister and his father's relationship is more than it should be. As he looks more and more into it he finds a sinister element that his mother does not see.
This was Tim Roth's directorial debut and he certainly wasn't looking for a popcorn hit. The story by Alexander Stuart from his own novel is very slow and deliberate but is ruthlessly effective. At first the whole family seems to have a strange sexual edge to it - the mother breast feeds in full view, the teenage brother and sister lie naked in front of each other etc. It gives things a strange feel but it's quickly forgotten when you get used to it. The guts of the story revolves around the father's sexual abuse of his daughter Jessie, who no longer fights but accepts it as part of her life. Some of the scenes - in particular the scene' - are too hard to watch and the whole thing is very powerful. The film develops slowly and does not allow the father to be a monster-type (the British media have a habit of demonising people rather than taking objective views). Here the film doesn't let him become a caricature even when his crimes come to light.
The cast are roundly brilliant. Winston plays it perfectly all the way and doesn't take the `monster' route. Freddie Cunliffe is excellent as Tom - although all he has to do is mope around the place. Lara Belmont is outstanding - this must have been so difficult to play but she is absolutely excellent throughout. Swinton is good as the mother, but her character is not well used or developed.
Overall it's very hard to watch. Roth's direction is a little too clever but is very good generally. A powerful story very well told - but it may not be to everyone's liking.
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