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Film Editorial

darkriver18.jpg Dark River

Director: Clio Barnard

Stars: Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean

For her third feature UK director Clio Barnard trades the council estate environs of her wondrous features The Arbor and The Selfish Giant to the ruddy West Yorkshire countryside with disappointing results. Atwell is Ruth, a young woman returning to her Yorkshire home following the death of her father. There she finds her still grieving, uncommunicative brother Joe (Stanley) barely holding things together, and the farm in a dilapidated state. Troubled by visions of her late father (Bean) she chooses to stay in the prefabricated building adjoining the farm. All of her attempts to get the place up and running again are met with resistance by Joe, and when she attempts to claim legal tenancy, matters come to a head. The evocative photography captures the ruddy roughness of farm life, while Wilson, frequently filmed in close-up, effectively conveys her character’s turmoil in a commendably self-contained performance. But the clumsy script reaches in vain for allegorical richness, meaning the picture compares unfavourably with similarly-themed recent Britflick, The Levelling. The relentless dourness is wearing, and the overblown climax, while superficially making some sort of narrative sense, feels contrived and unconvincing.