A filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few deta... Read allA filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.A filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.
Joyce Vincent's skeleton was found in her London bedsit three years after she died, surrounded by wrapped Christmas presents and with the TV still on in the background. Despite once having a fairly active social life, she clearly masked deep rooted insecurities to those around her, some of whom provide talking head perspectives here. These may have driven her to make some bad decisions and mix with the wrong people, drifting apart from those who really cared about her. Film maker Carol Morley attempts to piece together the events leading up to her death, trying to create a picture of who this woman was and how she came to meet such a lonely, desperate end.
It's testament to what a crazy, twenty four hour news world we live in that Joyce Vincent's story, as mind blowing and heart breaking as it is, is the type of thing you could read about in some rag like The Sun and then just put to the back of your mind faster than Jack Robinson. But however much you think about it, the idea of a woman lying dead in her home for three years with not a single friend or family member coming round to check on her or noticing she was gone will always make you wonder what kind of world we're living in, especially with so much more to hand than in years gone by.
As off putting as the thought of it is, the tone of the film should really be as dark and down beat as it can be, since it's such a desperately sad, shaming true life tale, but of course this would make it inaccessible to some, and it works more that Morley balances her work with more soulful, melancholy interludes in between the more dour, desperate moments. We learn of a confident, bubbly woman who could be the life and soul of any party, but who clearly carried deep, dark insecurities around with her and who failed to display much of a personality of her own, preferring to latch on to the close friends and people she had around her.
With the limited amount of material she has to work with, new comer Zawe Ashton brings Joyce to life in as colourful and under stated a way as she can, always at her best in alone, private moments when her passion and talent as a singer really comes to life, only for nothing to come of this. As Robert De Niro once stated in a film of his, there's nothing sadder than wasted talent and while these are very wise words, the film shows how a vulnerable, insecure personality can inadvertently make this so.
Morley has crafted a haunting, desperately sad tale that shows even in the 21st century we still live in more of an atomised, apart society than we'd care to admit and that maybe we don't care about each other as much as we ought to. ***
- May 2, 2012