By Sean Lawrenson, First Year, English
The story of a mother’s unflinching commitment to her son when he is accused of assault is direct in its approach. The film wastes little time in placing blame, instead focusing on the collapse of relationships and on how sometimes you must force yourself to see the truth, no matter how unbearably hard it is.
The latest collaboration from Anna Rose Holmer and Saela Davis, God’s Creatures, is a tense 101 minutes of drama. Starring Emily Watson as the emotionally conflicted Aileen O’Hara, a manager at a fishery, God’s Creatures is the story of a family reunion when golden child Brian (Paul Mescal) returns abruptly from Australia. The film is immediate in grabbing your attention, right from the off we are introduced to the macabre when a fisherman washes up shore in the village.
The performance from Emily Watson is a captivating one. To keep the audience on side when playing someone so clearly deceitful is a difficult aspect to contend with, but Watson plays Aileen with flawed naivety in her desperation to reconnect with her son, that she seems relatable.
In contrast, Mescal plays the accused Brian with enough pompous arrogance to separate this role from any of his others. That is not to say that he is not, at times, relatable, but the character of Brian is the overwhelming antagonist here, something Mescal leans into. If anything, it is a credit to Mescal for being able to pull off this role given his primarily wholesome protagonist roles in the past.
The pacing of the film is slow, but it never seems to drag. Instead, there are rises and falls in tension, such as a nail-biting scene in which Aileen sees Brian bring a girl clearly too young for him to the bar. There are moments of extreme silence, none more significant than the film’s ending, which will undoubtedly be a divisive one. Personally, I felt it rewarded the patience the audience has to give the film in order to enjoy it.
This is where the crux of the film lies. In all of the extended shots, where the camera remains on a character for just a second too long, and in all of the painstaking silences where characters struggle to find the right words to say as they attempt to piece their lives back together. It is in these moments where the film truly comes into its own, and those who are willing to give it a chance are sure to be impressed by Watson and Mescal’s performances, alongside a riveting story to boot.
Featured image: by A24, courtesy of IMDB
Did God's Creatures ending impress you?