Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The SWITCH team has checked out their top picks from the Perth Festival - click here to check out the reviews.x
review, Dark River, Dark, River, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean, Joe Dempsie, Esme Creed-Miles, Dean Andrews, Mike Noble, Aiden McCullough, Shane Attwooll, Steve Garti, Clio Barnard, Drama, Mystery, Thriller film rating

DARK RIVER

★★★

A HAUNTING PSYCHODRAMA

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
2nd August 2018

Ruth Wilson (‘The Lone Ranger’, TV’s ‘The Affair’) is Alice, a brawny contract sheep-shearer who returns to her family farm in Yorkshire, following the death of her father. He had promised the farm to her, so she has come to claim the tenancy. As she drives home through the green hills, P.J. Harvey sings the frosty nursery rhyme 'My Father Left Me an Acre of Land' on the soundtrack.

Yes, director Clio Barnard’s ‘Dark River’ is sombre.

The family farm - an explosion of crumbling walls, weeds, barbed wire and peeling paint - is a metaphor for the wreckage of Alice’s past. All that is left when she arrives is her hard-living brother Joe (Mark Stanley, TV’s ‘Game of Thrones’), a few sheep, and her traumatic memories of her father climbing into her bed. Alice is followed around the farmstead by ghosts plucked from her childhood memories - not only of her deceased father (a silent Sean Bean, ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’) but also of her teenage self (Esmé Creed-Miles) and Joe (Aiden McCullough) as they were when she was last at home. Joe, who took care of Dad solo during the old man’s declining years, understandably feels possessive about the home he never left, and no small amount of resentment toward Alice. He initiates a competing claim that would allow him to evict her and sell off the farm’s assets.

'DARK RIVER' TRAILER

Mark Stanley turns in a complicated performance as Joe, juggling his conflicted emotions at the return of his sister and the future of the farm, projecting occasional flashes of the less-embittered man he might have been, and terrifying in his one uncomfortable scene of drunken rage.

With her expressive face and deliberate movements, Wilson has already done some creepy work in a minimalist haunted house film, playing the title role of ‘I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House’ (she's also in another upcoming spooker, 'The Little Stranger'). Here, she ramps up the anxiety as a woman haunted by remembered victimhood, moving around every room as if constantly anticipating an assault, her memories lurking around every corner.

Alice’s recollections of her abuse are intercut into the narrative, tricking the viewer’s eye into believing that her assailant is alive again and evoking the fear of a child awake in her bed at night, watching a menacing shadow blot out the light from under her bedroom door. It’s a fear that Alice has never shaken off, so much so that she refuses to sleep in the main house as it triggers flashbacks. Unlike Tim Roth’s similar but grotesquely explicit film ‘The War Zone’, Barnard uses these flashbacks to spare the audience the details of Alice’s assault.

Alice’s recollections of her abuse are intercut into the narrative, tricking the viewer’s eye into believing that her assailant is alive again and evoking the fear of a child awake in her bed at night, watching a menacing shadow blot out the light from under her bedroom door.

‘Dark River’ is partly inspired by Rose Tremain’s 2010 novel 'Trespass' (a story of familial and class conflict in rural France), and takes its title from a line from a Ted Hughes poem about grief and memory. Barnard’s loose adaptation (her previous film ‘The Selfish Giant’ also had very little to do with Oscar Wilde’s fable) eliminates several of the book’s major characters, turning the story into a two-hander between Alice and Joe, and leaving the film feeling slightly empty.

The other leading character in ‘Dark River’ is the cold and imposing Yorkshire countryside. Beautifully filmed with some exquisite shots of green fields, hills and rolling landscapes, cinematographer Adriano Goldman makes full use of the surroundings and accompanying weather.

‘Dark River’ is a beautifully crafted, thoughtful film, with exceptional performances bolstering its gritty, albeit slightly grim, drama.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 29m
CAST: Ruth Wilson
Mark Stanley
Sean Bean
Joe Dempsie
Esme Creed-Miles
Dean Andrews
Mike Noble
Aiden McCullough
Shane Attwooll
Steve Garti
DIRECTOR: Clio Barnard
WRITERS: Clio Barnard
Lila Rawlings
Rose Tremain
PRODUCER: Tracy O'Riordan
SCORE: Harry Escott
DarkRiverFilmUK
DarkRiverFilm
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
The Peanut Butter Falcoln - Join the adventure of a lifetime
TRENDINGWIN THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCOLNJoin the adventure of a lifetime
For Sama - Oscar-nominated documentary on the female experience of war
TRENDINGWIN FOR SAMAOscar-nominated documentary on the female experience of war
And the Oscar goes to... - Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
TRENDINGWIN AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
The Lighthouse - Robert Pattinson & Willem Dafoe's wind-swept horror
TRENDINGWIN THE LIGHTHOUSERobert Pattinson & Willem Dafoe's wind-swept horror
Standing Up For Sunny - A comedy without the comedy but very sweet
TRENDINGSTANDING UP FOR SUNNYA comedy without the comedy but very sweet
God of the Piano - A tale that tickles the ivories
TRENDINGGOD OF THE PIANOA tale that tickles the ivories
True History of the Kelly Gang - A magnificent deconstruction of the great Australian antihero
TRENDINGTRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANGA magnificent deconstruction of the great Australian antihero
NT Live: Present Laughter - Andrew Scott astounds in this thrilling Noel Coward classic
TRENDINGNT LIVE: PRESENT LAUGHTERAndrew Scott astounds in this thrilling Noel Coward classic
The Peanut Butter Falcon - Wholesome and heartfelt
TRENDINGTHE PEANUT BUTTER FALCONWholesome and heartfelt
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
Motherless Brooklyn - A neo-noir set in 1950s New York
TRENDINGMOTHERLESS BROOKLYNA neo-noir set in 1950s New York
1917 - Sam Mendes' personal war story
TRENDING1917Sam Mendes' personal war story
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
A Hidden Life - Terrence Malick's stunning ode to the power of kindness
TRENDINGA HIDDEN LIFETerrence Malick's stunning ode to the power of kindness
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
School of Seduction - Husband hunting in Russia
TRENDINGSCHOOL OF SEDUCTIONHusband hunting in Russia
For Sama - An emotionally devastating must-watch
TRENDINGFOR SAMAAn emotionally devastating must-watch
A Guide to Second Date Sex - A quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
TRENDINGA GUIDE TO SECOND DATE SEXA quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood - Mr Rogers: healing the world one lost soul at a time
TRENDINGA BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOODMr Rogers: healing the world one lost soul at a time
Perth Festival 2020 - The reviews
TRENDINGPERTH FESTIVAL 2020The reviews
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us