Dark River: LFF Film Review

For the first time this LFF, I have come away disappointed with a film and that’s because Dark River was not what I expected and just didn’t do as much with an exciting premise as it could have done.

Ruth Wilson plays Alice, who returns home to the Yorkshire farm where she grew up following the death of her father (Sean Bean). She hasn’t been back for 15 years as it is filled with bad childhood memories but she wants to claim the farm as hers, something her brother Joe (Mark Stanley), who has worked on the farm all his life, has issues with.

The film is basically about their fraught relationship and trying to live alongside each other after a period of estrangement. They butt heads all the time, always arguing over the best ways to run the farm and who should own it. The dynamic between them is interesting but most of times what they really want to say goes unspoken so it feels quite slow and quiet, then it goes 360 and they are physically violent.

Wilson is fantastic because Alice has a lot of issues and really struggles to be in that house as it brings back old memories, with her constantly thinking she is seeing her dad. Joe is fine but he mostly just angry all the time and I struggled to understand what he was saying a lot.

I didn’t really know where it was going to go but I was hoping for something dramatic and shocking. It was certainly dramatic but it was edited in such a way that you didn’t know exactly what happened so you were too busy wondering what went down and if you perhaps missed something to feel the intended impact. Also, as neither of the leads as chatty, we don’t get an explanation and you know I dislike ambiguity.

Showing as part of the 61st London Film Festival. No release information as yet. 

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