Michael Pearce (director)
27 April 2018 (released)
24 April 2018
This latest film to emerge from the Channel Islands bounces around several difficult issues, that rips away the façade of a polite and mannered society.
Moll (Jessie Buckley) is a young woman stifled by her controlling family (though her father has Alzheimer’s) and at 27 still lives at home. Sibling rivalry and frustrations lead her to run away from her own birthday party to a club after which she meets the enigmatic Pascal (Johnny Flynn). Almost immediately taken in by his odd charm they start see each other, much to Hillary (Geraldine James) Moll’s overbearing mother’s disapproval. The fact he behaves like a juvenile in the family house while doing some odd jobs doesn’t help.
Moll is at last living something like the life she wants, with a man who is strange but appears to have a rebellious streak, and may even love her. Running parallel to this are a series of sexually motivated murders of young women. The police aren’t having much success with their investigations, and suspicion starts to fall on Pascal. Moll who is now in love (under Pascal’s spell?) is put under pressure by her mother to finish the relationship, which she doesn’t. But she has her doubts and when other issues start to come to light, both are tested to the maximum.
Running beneath the Jersey tourist board shots of countryside and beaches is a dark seam of small town prejudice, family rivalry, breakdown and just plain nastiness. By rights the bullied and humiliated Moll should draw some sympathy, and its to Buckley’s credit that she does, up to a point. However, as the relationship with Pascal develops it ebbs away.
That's because while there is a whiff of devilry about Pascal, that quickly wafts away when you realise he is actually a charmless, smug, self-alienating so and so. Its not entirely clear if that was what director and writer Michael Pearce was after but it’s what Flynn delivers.
The pair are burdened with secrets that start to emerge, adding an effective psychological who-are-they-really element to the film. Buckley and Flynn riff off each other, creating a strange rapport. Though that, and the viewer, are tested towards the end which, while keeping you guessing, Pearce just lets things get away a bit and it feels stretched.