Thursday, 9 June 2016

REVIEW - THE ONES BELOW (DAVID FARR)


Keeping you guessing and keeping you caring - the dramatic thriller has two basic requirements, interconnected and virtually essential for their success. Though the ends somewhat justify the means in The Ones Below, and also though David Farr's film makes some sensitive observations in the process, there's little guessing to be done here at all. A narrative of confusion and curiosity, it's nevertheless nothing that hasn't been done before. Clemence Poesy plays Kate, a new mother with some serious concerns over the safety of her baby - the film presents those concerns as equally legitimate and dubious, in a character trope typical of films of this ilk (arguably even crucial). Questioning the reality of her increasingly, predictably fraught suspicions is an expected angle to take; encouraging trust in as well as sympathy for this character rather gives the game away, however, or alternatively would suggest a volte-face at the end that's wholly unearned. And yet The Ones Below maintains enough material of surprising substance to keep you caring. The imperilled new mother is perhaps a tale that no feminist needs told yet again, but Farr taps into some salient details around the desires and the duties of motherhood that give credence to actions that might otherwise seem routine for a thriller like this. In narrowing the range of the plot onto the respective emotional drives of each figure herein, and with ample assistance from a talented ensemble of actors, Farr builds to a series of small revelations with a large impact, even if he's laboured too hard at hinting toward the precise particulars of his conclusion.