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Dark River

“sing holly, go whistle and ivy”

Poise and slow surrender, Dark River, from writer and director, Clio Barnard bears the hallmark qualities of an early work from a relatively uninspiring writer, whose only real accomplishment appears to be a choice track from P.J. Harvey. While I much welcomed the return to my radar of Ruth Wilson (whose character in Luther is among my favorites) the film exhibited a level of redundancies and shallowness that made even the 90 minute run-time seem insufferable.

Here was a film about a daughter who suffered abuse as a child from a father who now has passed away and left an acre of land to the two kids vying for the inheritance. One (Wilson) wanting to restore the home to its former glory, indicating competence and will power like the proverbial feminist hero of Jane Austen novels full of individuality and resolve. While the son (Mark Stanley), a drunk, abusive lowlife whose only interest appaers to be the selling of the home and an escape from his state of his own seeming disrepair. 

There is a high tension at the center of the story as Wilson seeks to fight off her brother’s desire to abandon the shelter of land and escape the presence of his sister that he failed to protect in his youth. A daughter, demonstrating immense strength to redeem her sordid past as she continues to be haunted by the ghost of her father. The two struggle, almost killing each other, while making the necessary sacrifices to achieve their respective goals. In the end, there comes an endearing moment that does a lot to capture the drawn out dynamic between the two, although a little too late to redeem a production deserving of a premature DVD release.

RATING: D+

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