A writer spends a few days with her mother at a secluded Victorian hotel, but the past evokes emotions she never expected.
Atmospheric, eerie at times, truly Hitchcockian, but awfully slow. It is a very intriguing story, but a rather non-challenging execution. For starters, while it is a noble idea to have Tilda Swinton playing both daughter and mother, the fact that producer/writer/director Joanna Hogg couldn’t place them in the same shot (not till the very end, anyway) made the dialogue editing look like a ping pong match. Overall though, the film’s great shots compensate for the unimaginably slow pace and rhythm and while the purpose is justified, you might find it difficult to stay with it until the end. There is a steady pace throughout all three acts, something that provides a sense of realism, and while there is a denouement, yes, the path Hogg paves towards that denouement will seriously challenge your patience and ability to focus. Ultimately, it is a heavily depressing concept that does not aim to cheer you up. And this is what you sign up for; an hour and a half of Kafkaesque gloom. Personally, I very much enjoyed it by being sucked into the story and the dark drama it carries, but I find it difficult to recommend it.
This is yet another A24 film that I will praise, as well as their collaboration with BBC, and producer Martin Scorsese. There is an audience for such films, and they aim right at it. The key to just accepting it for what it is is to grasp the feeling of loneliness, the burden of guilt, and the impact of loss.
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