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The Bridge (2005)
Review by Jean Lynch - CLOSE UP FILM
In her office, late at night, Mary (Corr), a psychologist, takes a voicemail from the father of a girl who has committed suicide whilst under her care, urging her that it's time to 'let go'. Having lost her position through this unfortunate event, Mary finds it very hard to do so, and scribbles down the man's number only to see it vanish beneath the remnants of a teacup, upended by her friendly cat. An attempt at remembering the number leads to a call to an elderly man, Simon (Fenton), who only moments before was poised, barefoot on a snowy ledge, about to leap to his death into the dark waters below Against the shadowy silhouette of the bridge, blue-tinged and feathered with falling snow, director Richard Raymond elicits a most magical and haunting sense of other-worldliness, the stylised heightened reality an escapee of a Tim Burton landscape, demonstrating all of Burton's delicious dark melancholy but devoid of his black humour. However, this is no triumph of style over substance: Raymond gently unfurls his tale, Mary at first still as she receives the message, her agitation growing as she takes the call from Simon and realises he is on the brink of killing himself, and then her flight into the night as she attempts to lay her own ghosts to rest by saving another, all leading to a taught and chilling climax.
Whilst an interesting combination, there may not be the highest of expectations for the pairing of the lead singer of a pop group with Doctor Legge from Eastenders. In that case, be prepared for a most pleasing surprise. The pacing of the film is dependent on the camera exploring the performers' actions and gestures and, within their dialogue, to linger on their expressions. As such, any mis-timing or errors would be magnified to the audience. That they both deliver convincing, gripping and moving performances is a credit to both actors and Raymond as director. Corr, previously seen in The Commitments and Evita, the Madonna vehicle in which she was criminally allowed only one line of what should have been her character's own song, has her sights set on an acting career and the evidence on display here leads one to suspect she'll be most successful. Underplaying rather than overplaying is a most subtle skill and Corr demonstrates this with aplomb. Fenton, meanwhile, ranges from pathos to simmering rage, as his anger at his life erupts and, his face a close-up of crevice shadowed contortion, bores into the viewer. The interplay between seasoned thespian and fresh-faced newcomer is nicely balanced, and the unlikely two-hander deftly explores a range of human emotions. As the falling snow is by turn luminescent white in the lamplight, or midnight blue against the darkened night, it reflects how the film's themes of regret, guilt, blame, loyalty and redemption are rarely black or white but instead change, Monet-esquire, dependent on the light in which they're seen.
Are there flaws? One or two, but even these are debatable. The plot is stretched slightly and could be shorter, but to lose the slow-burning build would almost certainly detract from the atmospherics of the film. The ending, too, is not as dramatically climatic as one has been lead to suspect, but it is satisfying and quite haunting, resolving itself and yet is ambiguous enough to leave the viewer revisiting the tale in the mind's eye.
The Bridge has already attracted a considerable fanbase and plaudits from home and abroad. It's legacy will be as a beautiful, melancholy calling card that heralded the beginning of a most promising career for both its director and its leading lady, but one which will remain a favourite in it's own right in any viewer's personal film collection.