Abner Pastoll (director)
27 August 2019 (released)
27 August 2019
Opening with Sarah (Sarah Bolger) bloodied in the shower the curiosity is piqued. We then learn later on that Sarah is a widow her husband having been murdered though the police not interested in investigating. As far as they’re concerned life goes on in the bleak Belfast neighbourhood which looks as if it has been taken over by hooded men shiftily hanging around passing signals.
Director Abner Pastoll doesn’t mess around, the continuous drone shots over the estates set out the colourless drudgery of life there, though there's a troubled beauty about night shots when the street lights appear to be sparkling.
Its’s no real surprise then when petty criminal Tito (Andrew Simpson) breaks into Sarah’s home to escape his pursuers (whom he's robbed of drugs) promising evil things if she says anything. Chase over and he’s off.
He’s nicked these from the local big boss as the aforementioned appears at his base with the regulation henchmen. Leo Miller (Edward Hogg) is one of those barking but quiet gang bosses with a sadistic streak.
Tito returns to the house, where he stashed the load, and now sees as his base of operation, offering Sarah a cut of his earnings. At first because of the police and her children she’s not interested, but taking a chance she quizzes Tito about her husband who is forthcoming and Sarah starts to pieces things together. She also takes some of his money, as she is having trouble making ends meet. However an accident pushes Tito too far forcing Sarah to defend herself.
She knows about Miller’s mob and slowly it dawns on her what her husband was and the reason for her mother’s attitude and that of her neighbours. Nevertheless it’s her and her children now, and the gang is closing in.
This is a fairly conventional thriller in some respects with a regulation bonkers boss, this one has a thing about metaphors, and a lone woman defending herself and her children. What takes it up a level is the bitter social commentary and the heartfelt performance of Sarah Bolger as she struggles to deal with the situation she is in while learning and having visible difficulty coming to terms with the reality of the man she loved.
The violence is brutal with hammers to heads and saws going through bones though not especially explicit. It’s a depressing film at times though not nihilistic. The running vein of humiliation and misogyny flung at Sarah at the start and during the film is satisfactorily dealt with and provides hope.