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Author Topic: Dark River reviews  (Read 318 times)

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Dark River reviews
« on: September 11, 2017, 12:10:39 AM »
Toronto Film Review: ‘Dark River’
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  fine Ruth Wilson headlines Clio Barnard's third feature, a stirring battle-for-the-land drama combining classicism with a nervous edge.
 
“You can’t go home again,” that age-old chorus of mature disillusionment, at first appears to be the driving current of “Dark River,” a severe, stoic but internally screaming third feature from gifted British writer-director Clio Barnard. Yet as already brittle family relations shatter and scatter across the humble patch of Yorkshire farmland that centers this roiling rural tragedy, the message turns harder still: Perhaps you were never really home at all.
 
Melding the quiet poetic realism of Barnard’s exquisite “The Selfish Giant” with a higher-key strain of relocated Greek tragedy, “Dark River” isn’t quite as bracing or as unexpected as the director’s previous work — not least because, through no fault of the film’s own, it’s only the latest in a recent boom of comparably styled British farm dramas. Still, there’s scarcely room here for improvement at the level of craft or performance; in particular, it’s gratifying to see leading lady Ruth Wilson headlining a big-screen vehicle worthy of her flinty brilliance.

She’s also proving herself one of the most intuitively original adaptation artists working today. After “The Selfish Giant” put a thoroughly oblique yet spiritually true spin on Oscar Wilde, “Dark River” credits Rose Tremain’s acclaimed 2010 novel “Trespass” as its inspiration: A story of familial and class conflict in rural France, it has undergone a drastic geographic and sociopolitical makeover. What remains from the source is an unsparing view of rancorous sibling rivalry, with estranged love and intimate hate pushed to such extremes by circumstance that they’re no longer distinguishable. Of note is that Barnard wrote the film with a grant from British biomedical charity the Wellcome Trust, awarded annually to screenwriters bridging ideas of art and science. Though not academic in detail or outlook, “Dark River” has grown persuasively out of psychiatric research into traumatic memory.

The trauma, in this case, belongs to Alice (Wilson), a native Yorkshirewoman who has spent the last 15 years drifting from farm to farm, scraping by on contract work as a sheep shearer, seemingly avoiding fixity at all costs. One sheep-scattered smallholding she hasn’t passed through in this time is her family’s own, where her brooding older brother Joe (“Game of Thrones” alum Mark Stanley) has been caring for their sickly father (Sean Bean, glimpsed only in terse, quivering flashbacks), increasingly overwhelmed by the demands of the land. Nevertheless, following her father’s death, she warily returns to claim what she believes is her rightful tenancy of the decaying farm.

Hardened by years of compounded disappointment and unrewarded labor, Joe unsurprisingly does not see things the same way, challenging his once-beloved sister’s claim in what gradually escalates into an ugly war of psychological attrition. Even such petty conflicts as a disagreement over methods of sheep-dipping take on larger emotional resonance as the two mutually stubborn siblings grapple for the upper hand, all while the spoils of the battle look increasingly small and unstable. Overlapping in certain narrative respects with “God’s Own Country” and “The Levelling,” “Dark River” likewise dramatizes the widespread financial crisis presently facing Britain’s farmers. There may be no mention of Brexit here, but accidentally or otherwise, its attendant anxiety feels present in the film’s downbeat mood.

An actress of stern, subtle gravitas who has been amply tested in theater and on television, Wilson is long overdue a film lead of this breadth and heft. Though she plays Alice with a decidedly modern defiance, the performance is marked by the classical plangency of her stage turns in such standards as “Anna Christie” and “Hedda Gabler” — a heightened tonal counterpoint to the textured naturalism of her gait and accent.

She has an earthily volatile screen opponent in Stanley, a hard-shelled creature of ire who projects occasional flashes of the less embittered man Joe might have been if he hadn’t been left to contend with his father’s muddy finances and muddier personal history. Both actors do a fine job of physically carrying the paternal abuse they’ve weathered, most wrenchingly so in Alice’s case: Her silent, seconds-long lapses of consciousness into a nightmarish past are tightly controlled, too, by editors Nick Fenton and Luke Dunkley, as Barnard’s script trusts viewers with the ugliest implicit details.
 
http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/dark-river-review-1202541684/


'Dark River': Toronto Review
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A close-quarters drama from writer-director Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant, The Arbor), Dark River is a precise, penetrating story of casual farm labourer Alice (Ruth Wilson), who has somehow survived a childhood of sexual abuse at the hands of her father (Sean Bean, in flashback).


 It has been 15 years since Alice fled their rundown rural farmhouse, yet, when he dies, she opts to return to confront the past and a complicated relationship with a brother who can terrify her. Rats roam the barns, fences are in disrepair, the sheep go hungry. Still, Alice wants to make it good, fix it all up; her bright eyes surge with hope against the odds.

Premiering in Toronto’s Platform section, Dark River should enjoy healthily festival exposure as Barnard’s reputation continues to grow. A career-best performance from Ruth Wilson will help this drama resonate, although commercial prospects are hard to call for the third British farming drama this year, after God’s Own Country and The Levelling. Softly reminiscent of the Scotland-based Shell in its difficult subject matter, and inspired by Rose Tremain’s novel Trespass, Dark River is distinguised by superior film-making and admirable command of tone and pacing. Once again, Barnard delivers an intimate take on a difficult subject, raising anticipation for her future work should she decide to scale up.

The writer/director sets her highly-charged story against the wide vistas of rural Yorkshire, where weather batters and burnishes the landscape and the dank, squalid interiors of a run-down farm are haunted by the past. The director confidently builds up tension – the flickering images of days gone by interact with the quietly churning score – and draws quiet believability from Wilson as the hesitant, frightened, but tough survivor.

Slim, at 89 minutes, Dark River (the title of a Ted Hughes poem) sets off down a classical narrative path – the death of a father unlocking the action – yet feathers in the narrative slowly and mysteriously. Although the abuse is made clear, it’s never established what happened to make Alice leave her brother Joe (Mark Stanley) behind 15 years ago, or the precise nature of their relationship then. It’s also not easy to predict how she will behave now. At times she’s defiant, but often Alice is simply scared, impelled to sieze on her father’s promise of the land as the chance to make good. Flashbacks, hooked on to underwater sequences, fade in and out and Alice is still too terrified to sleep in the farmhouse, opting for a tin shack instead.

Joe, meanwhile, is volatile and given to alcoholic rages. He’s a bad farmer, often absent to drive a lorry for his second job. Alice applies for the farm tenancy, but so does Matty, as they come to blows over the right way to farm the land. He threatens to convict her, while a crooked land agent is probably one of the least convincing elements of the piece, yet brings Dark River to a convincing denouement.

Alice is proud of her skills as a sheep shearer, and scenes with the livestock help bring life and colour to the gloom, while Matty’s empassioned speech about biodiversity speaks volumes about letting matters lie. Adriano Goldman’s camera is intuitive and lithe, while Harry Escott’s score throbs (PJ Harvey’s ’An Acre Of Land’ tops and tails the piece). This is a story told with a strong female perspective, with Wilson bringing fresh insights to the story of a survivor of abuse. This fine actress should certainly be noticed when it comes to British awards.
https://www.screendaily.com/reviews/dark-river-toronto-review/5121737.article



Toronto 2017: Dark River review

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★★★★☆
Following this year's The Levelling and God's Own Country, the decaying farmlands of rural England appear to be replacing the urban concrete high-rise as the preferred setting for British social realism. Clio Barnard's Dark River may well be the cream of this particular crop.

 Barnard, whose Yorkshire-centric filmography already includes doc-hybrid The Arbor and The Selfish Giant, once again takes loose inspiration from a literary source - this time a plot strand in British author Rose Tremain's multi-narrative novel Trespass - to provide the basis for a slow-burning, often suffocatingly tense tale of a sibling power struggle. Returning to the homestead of her childhood, roving sheep shearer Alice (Ruth Wilson) finds both the farm and her younger brother Joe (Mark Stanley) in comparable states of disrepair.

 Ground down by the day-to-day care of their recently-deceased father (Sean Bean on flashback duty)  and looking for a quick sale, Joe struggles to understand his sister's motivation for returning the farm back to its former glory. The rightful owner of the property, Alice finds herself battling not only her ox-like drunk of a brother but also the spectres of an abusive past. To add insult to injury, an increasingly unhinged Joe accepts a backhander from the farm's unscrupulous landlords to sell Alice's inheritance from under her nose, setting in course a tragic chain of events.

 Anchored by two exceptional, contrasting performances from leads Wilson and Stanley, Dark River expands upon the themes of childhood kinship central to The Selfish Giant, whilst at the same time serving as a condemnation of the historic exploitation and mismanagement of rural England's once-thriving agricultural heartland. Throughout the film, bonds - be they familial or statutory - are abused and betrayed, the only true loyalty found in the duty-bound dogs that slink along at Alice's side. A kindly neighbour (Shane Attwooll) provides some respite from the mounting pressure, but as Joe's psychological integrity begins to crumble, Alice finds herself in danger of losing more than merely bricks and mortar.

 Sumptuously shot by Brazilian cinematographer Adriano Goldman (whose previous credits include Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre) and edited by longtime Barnard collaborator Nick Fenton, Dark River goes some way towards further cementing its director as the spiritual heir to social realist master Ken Loach. Where Barnard differentiates herself, however, is in her dedication to exploring both the inner and outer-workings of her beleaguered characters. The key here is the perfectly-cast Wilson, constantly swimming against the current of her own harrowing memories, often telling more in a single glance than her sporadic utterances to her similarly-broken brother ever could.
 
http://www.cine-vue.com/2017/09/toronto-2017-dark-river-review.html



« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 07:18:17 AM by patch »

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 01:52:09 AM »
TIFF 2017: Dark River Review
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Just when you thought you’d seen the very best film set on a farm in Yorkshire this year in Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country – along comes Clio Barnard to provide some stiff competition. This exceptionally talented filmmaker, whose work can be compared to that of which we see from Shane Meadows, follows on from The Arbor and The Selfish Giant with yet another tremendously bleak affair – but such is the conviction and commitment to reality, it’s rewarding, fulfilling cinema, despite the themes being explored.

Alice (Ruth Wilson) left her family’s farm years ago, and had little desire to return. Until her father, portrayed in flashbacks by Sean Bean, passes away. With the farm now in the hands of her volatile brother Joe (Mark Stanley) she decides to head back home and take control of the family business. With her best intentions at heart, she wants to claim the tenancy to what she believes is rightfully hers – but having not been around for 15 years, she faces opposition from Joe who is of the opinion that he is the rightful landowner.

Despite the opening line in this review – similarities to God’s Own Country are somewhat tenuous, for the latter lingers on the notion of birth, with hope a paramount theme. On a farm, however, if there is one thing as prevalent as birth, it’s death – and it’s here this film thrives. Naturally what transpires is a challenging watch, that is unrelenting in how desolate it becomes.

While perhaps the bleak nature of the narrative is somewhat overbearing, and predictable in parts, as you can foresee the tragic elements of the story – it doesn’t mean this isn’t worthwhile cinema, for it’s been presented in such a beautiful way; the harshness of the landscape and the serenity of the wilderness combining to make for a truly evocative endeavour. Barnard uses imagery so intelligently too, and the notion of memory – in how small, seemingly innocuous things can remind Alice of her harrowing past, a subtle smell, or a noise, constantly taking her back to the dark places in her mind.

Given the nature of the film, in order to work it requires a strong leading performance, and with Wilson that much is a given. It’s such a nuanced turn, and she conveys so much without the need for dialogue, with a sadness and vacancy behind her eyes that suggests she’s been through so much, conflicted in her emotions as she returns home to say goodbye to the man who inflicted the majority of her anguish. The actress is matched at every turn by Stanley too – as between their performances, and the ability in Barnard’s storytelling, it ensures that Dark River is one of the standout British films this year.
 
https://www.heyuguys.com/dark-river-review/

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 03:55:32 AM »
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Elevator pitch: Latter-day Wuthering Heights meets kitchen-sink.

Alice (Ruth Wilson) is a highly competent sheep hand who returns to a decaying family farm after the death of her abusive father: Can she and her traumatized brother (Mark Stanley) run the operation together? Director Clio Barnard has an unblinking and decidedly bleak view of both the Yorkshire setting and family relations, although there is the occasional puzzling slip: Alice, a woman whose most prized possession is a sheep shearing tool, is always shown wearing makeup. Wilson and Stanley’s performances are unwavering; Barnard inserts flashbacks to their characters’ youth with devastating accuracy, but the rugged emotional territory (and the Yorkshire accents) prove heavy-going in an uncompromising film that elicits a lot more admiration than enjoyment.
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/awards-and-festivals/tiff/the-globes-guide-to-tiff-2017-movies/article35939881/?film=30

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 12:00:07 AM »
‘Dark River’: Film Review | TIFF 2017
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Ruth Wilson stars as a sheep-shearer haunted by an abusive past in this British drama from writer-director Clio Barnard ('The Arbor,' 'The Selfish Giant').

Of a piece thematically with her two previous features, documentary The Arbor and drama The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard’s latest, Dark River, once again sketches a moving, North of England-set portrait of marginalized working-class cultures and the resilience of damaged children. Featuring a more name cast than Barnard’s earlier works, this pivots around the protean Ruth Wilson (TV’s Luther, The Affair) as a woman trying to run the family farm after her father’s death, and confronting her own traumatized past in the process.

 The dominant note is the warm but quotidian realism of Giant rather than the experimental daring of Arbor, yet Dark River yields a perceptive study of family dynamics, unfolding in a changing landscape as prey to economic forces and demographic shifts as any urban center. Wilson’s name along with that of Sean Bean and at least two other Game of Thrones veterans may help raise River’s profile a few notches, but it’s unlikely to harvest much more than usual for British fare of its type.

Alice Bell (Wilson) lives the life of modern agricultural gypsy, moving from farm to farm in her Land Rover to shear sheep on temporary contracts. Highly competent and respected by her employers and peers, Alice seemingly keeps at bay the pain of remembering the childhood sexual abuse inflicted by her father Richard (Bean) by staying perpetually in motion and concentrating on her work. But when she hears that Richard has finally died after a long illness, she returns to the Yorkshire farm where she grew up to reclaim the lease on the land, determined to take what Richard once promised her, perhaps as some kind of compensation.

 The hitch is that her elder brother Joe (Mark Stanley, excellent) is still living on the farm and half-heartedly attending to its flock of sheep, in between shifts as a truck driver. Joe looked after Richard up until his death, and feels some stifled resentment that Alice thinks she can just waltz back in after a 15-year absence and start taking over the place. For her part, Alice is willing to share the lease and work the farm in collaboration with Joe. But they have different ideas about how to run things, from whether the sheep should be dipped or sprayed (for parasites and wool preservation) or if a nearby field should be used for silage (Alice’s choice) or left fallow so that the plants and animals decimated by intensive farming practices can be left to regenerate (Joe’s preference).

As it happens, these debates between the siblings look likely to be moot since the company that actually owns all the Bell family’s acres wants to develop the property for holiday cottages and tourism instead of farming, although they can’t actually say that outright. This means that even though Alice is manifestly the more capable and competent farmer, the company’s representatives approach Joe with the offer of a backhander and the lease in his name, for at least a little while longer, if he promises to evict his sister

Issues involving money and property are not the only things at stake here. Barnard’s elliptical script refrains from spelling things out too baldly in words, but it’s clear from the flashbacks (which feature Esme Creed-Miles as the young Alice and Aiden McCullough as young Joe) that Alice was regularly abused by Richard when she was a child, perhaps after Alice and Joe's mother died or left. Apparently, Joe knew about the abuse, and not only did he fail to stop it, he actually helped his father to control Alice and keep her from seeing potential-boyfriend David (Joe Dempsie, another Thrones alum). Those who read Rose Tremain’s novel Trespass, on which this is very loosely based, will also be aware that there’s an even darker history between the two siblings in Tremain's version of the story.

One can’t help wondering whether at one point, during development perhaps, there were scenes that took the story in this creepier direction. Meanwhile, an end credit lists actor Una McNulty in the role of Susan Bell, presumably Alice and Joe’s mother, and the character features in the dialogue but is never met onscreen nor is her absence ever explained, which suggests things may have been shifted around somewhat between shooting and the final cut. Indeed, the film sometimes feels particularly withholding and suggestive when it comes to plot, although there’s enough expression in the faces of the actors, especially Wilson and Stanley, to fill in the emotional gaps.

Bean himself barely has more than a line or two, but even in the very few moments he appears onscreen — climbing into bed with his daughter, or looking with glowering and guilt at her from across a room — he makes an indelible impression. Barnard underscores this by suggesting that he’s still around, like a memory or a ghost, interacting through magic of eyeline match cuts with the grown Alice played by Wilson rather than the child Alice played by Creed-Miles. (Who, incidentally is both terrifically cast to play the young Wilson and yet also looks a lot like her real-life mother, the superb British actor Samantha Morton.) Ultimately, though, this is Wilson’s film and she owns it with a performance rich in psychological subtlety that simultaneously projects ferocity and vulnerability. Plus, she gets to show off her sheep-shearing and dog whistling chops, and how many actors can claim the same?
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/dark-river-review-1038219

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2017, 07:55:28 AM »
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  “Dark River,” another movie that begins with a daughter’s homecoming after her father’s death. This one, however, is set not in London but rather in the farther-flung sheep pastures of Yorkshire, where a woman named Alice (Ruth Wilson) has spent 15 years drifting and working as a shearer. Once she learns of her dad’s passing, she immediately returns home to claim tenancy of her family’s small farm, to which she believes she is entitled, although her rough, ill-tempered brother, Joe (Mark Stanley), obviously has different ideas in mind.

Adapted and significantly changed from Rose Tremain’s France-set novel “Trespass,” “Dark River” is both a ferocious drama of sibling animus — beautifully enacted by Wilson and Stanley — and a harrowing chronicle of abuse. We glimpse Alice’s physical violation at her father’s hands in brief, splintered flashbacks, which Barnard weaves into her narrative with shivery skill. Audiences who have seen the director’s brilliant experimental documentary “The Arbor” (2011) and her heartrending drama “The Selfish Giant” (2013), know her skill at conjuring a bleakly enveloping sense of place, and this movie, with its wild, rugged moors pelted by sudden rains, is no exception.
 
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-toronto-diary-justin-chang-20170908-htmlstory.html


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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2017, 01:03:19 AM »
Dark River review - sparkling central duo lift Clio Barnard's social-realist farm yarn
 3 / 5 stars 
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Clio Barnard is the fiercely intelligent, visually inventive and innovative film-maker who gave us the brilliant docu-hybrid The Arbor and then The Selfish Giant, an inspired interpretation of Oscar Wilde set in Bradford. Her third feature, Dark River, is never anything other than acute and sensitive, with some very good actors giving well directed performances. But for all this movie’s qualities, it is a British social-realist picture in a well-understood idiom which perhaps doesn’t quite give us the shock of the new that her previous films delivered. And the appearance of a shotgun early on triggers the ancient Chekhov law about what happens to a gun that is produced in Act One: we are heading to a slightly melodramatic and functional ending.
 
Ruth Wilson is excellent as Alice, a young woman who has been earning money with seasonal work on farms. Then she receives news that her widower father has died, and she must return to the family home, a tenant farm in North Yorkshire, which her brother Joe (Mark Stanley) has let become a ruin. He has driven himself almost to a breakdown looking after their ill father and is enraged with Alice for running out on them, leaving him to do all the work. Their relationship explodes into open warfare when Alice fiercely reveals that she intends to apply to the farm’s freeholder for permission to become the sole tenant, effectively in control. She believes this is what she is owed, because the awful truth is that her father abused her. And as for Joe, he has his own motives for making a counter-claim to the tenancy.
 
Their troubled past is revealed in disturbing flashbacks, with Esme Creed-Miles and Aiden McCollough as the younger Alice and Joe, and Sean Bean as their father, like a vivid ghost, as Alice is haunted by memories of the house – particularly her own bedroom, which she cannot bear to go near. Ruth Wilson’s face and body language give us access to the wounded and unhappy girl that grew up there. But as an adult, she can see how the farm is becoming increasingly unprofitable. Naturally, Joe resents her interventions; Barnard’s writing and Stanley’s performance show how he does not have the emotional language to express his resentment, fear and guilt in anything other than violence. And of course this violence is heading only in one direction.

Their escalating confrontation is complicated by two faces of officialdom who appear on their property. One is a prissy land agent in spotless Wellington boots; the other is a breezy estate management executive who tells Joe about how certain factors could see him favoured for the tenancy over his sister. Wilson and Stanley are both excellent performers and they are the mainstays of a valuable piece of work, but I felt the ending was contrived and a bit grandiloquent. However, the visual style and fluency of the film are obvious.
Dark River is screening at the Toronto film festival and will be released in the UK on 7 January.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/sep/15/dark-river-review-clio-barnard-ruth-wilson-toronto-film-festival-tiff


Dark River: A bleak folk dirge to bury the past
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Sheep shearer Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her family’s farm in Yorkshire after an absence of 15 years, following her father Richard’s (Sean Bean) death. There, for the first time since her departure, she will encounter her brother Joe (Mark Stanley), who has been left behind taking care of their sick father and the property. Alice is back to claim the tenancy to their farm, which comes as a surprise to Joe, and so a conflict will emerge between them. At the same time, more landlords are starting to consider Alice as a threat. As she tries to salvage her relationship with her brother, she’s also fighting her traumatic memories, since their father sexually abused her as a teenager.

Dark River is a disturbingly poignant drama that immediately captures the viewer’s attention, while the exploration of its bleak, intimate subject matter takes its time to unfold. Barnard felt inspired by the 2010 novel Trespass, written by Rose Tremain, which she developed into a script along with her producer Lila Rawlings, and the story probes this tentative relationship between two adult siblings and the struggle of dealing with memory and the exploitation of a woman.

Using the tenancy as an excuse, Alice aims to confront and unearth the past. She needs to release this tension and take Joe along with her on her devastating journey. It is important for her to reach closure, even if it seems almost impossible. Alice returns more unprotected than ever, to a male-dominated environment where she has to exorcise her own demons and evolve on a personal level. Wilson, known from her roles in the series The Affair and Luther, feels like the perfect actress to portray a courageous lead character who has been a victim in the past, but who has now created a strong and independent persona in order to survive. Behind her inscrutable mask, Alice still needs a place and time to feel released from her past, and a dark river will be the perfect medium in which to bury her traumatic memories.

To enhance the verisimilitude of the story, the filmmaker carried out extensive research while building the characters in her film. She collaborated with acclaimed forensic psychiatrists who specialise in dealing with both survivors and perpetrators of sexual abuse. This meticulous process allowed Barnard to expose the core of her protagonists and, without resorting to anything artificial, to deliver characters that are bare and realistic, and which offer a natural emotional impact that can only be likened to the untouched purity of the countryside around them. With its strong attachment to its rural Yorkshire location, and echoing with the rhymes of PJ Harvey’s version of the folk song “Acre of Land”, Dark River becomes a bleak folk dirge about a buried past.
http://cineuropa.org/nw.aspx?t=newsdetail&l=en&did=334854



Dark River (Clio Barnard, UK) — Platform
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The places you’ve lived are like the people you’ve loved: you can leave them all you want but they’ll never be gone. The inextricability of space and emotion, the way we infuse familiar places with the ghosts of our memories, is at the core of Dark River, a grim tale that explores the subtle differences between coming back and coming home. Clio Barnard’s film concerns its protagonist’s physical return to her family’s farm, but insinuates a certain reluctance to rummage through the sentimental landscape embedded under its creaking and decaying surface.

From the outside looking in, Alice’s (Ruth Wilson) return is transactional, law-abiding, and the kind of business a dutiful daughter and sister would do—but on the inside is a pool of undisclosed pain and resentment on the verge of overflowing. They say trauma comes in twos: the first time is the actual event, whereas the second is a simulacrum of that violence—a vivid reopening of the emotional wound, which in Alice’s case is triggered by the physical state of being there (again).

However, despite the potential in Barnard’s thematic setup and Wilson’s fine performance, Dark River ultimately amounts to less than the sum of its parts, weighed down by its unfocused style and unevenly paced narrative reveal. The mishandled flashbacks and cheaply shocking apparitions seem to be at odds with the film’s more nuanced sensibilities; the combination of slow and artful camerawork with messy, lukewarm thrills doesn’t work in this case, culminating in a less than gratifying—not to mention unnecessarily drastic—finale. Like Alice herself, the film attempts to cover grounds too extensive and discordant to harmonize.
 
http://cinema-scope.com/cinema-scope-online/dark-river-clio-barnard-uk-platform/





« Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 06:59:29 AM by patch »

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 12:05:16 AM »
Dark River TIFF 2017 Review
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Trauma, or more specifically the aftermath of trauma, has always been a rich topic to explore in cinema, and it’s easy to see why. Trauma itself may be experienced on one’s own or with others, but the struggle to manage and move on after the fact is an internal, individual one that can lend itself to a powerful, cinematic representation. Clio Barnard tackles this subject matter with Dark River, her follow-up to the terrific drama The Selfish Giant, by following a fractured relationship between two siblings in the same naturalist vein as her previous work. But the specificity and raw power of The Selfish Giant are absent here, and as a character-based drama around the emotional scars of an abusive family, Dark River fails in almost every respect.
https://thefilmstage.com/reviews/tiff-review-dark-river-is-a-hollow-exploration-of-the-aftermath-of-abuse/




The Daily] Toronto 2017: Clio Barnard’s Dark River
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Clio Barnard is the fiercely intelligent, visually inventive and innovative film-maker who gave us the brilliant docu-hybrid The Arbor and then The Selfish Giant, an inspired interpretation of Oscar Wilde set in Bradford,” begins the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. “Her third feature, Dark River, is never anything other than acute and sensitive, with some very good actors giving well directed performances. But for all this movie’s qualities, it is a British social-realist picture in a well-understood idiom which perhaps doesn’t quite give us the shock of the new that her previous films delivered.” 
https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/4932-the-daily-toronto-2017-clio-barnard-s-dark-river



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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2017, 03:35:39 AM »
A movie review of ​DARK RIVER.
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Did he suffer?” Alice (Ruth Wilson)
 
Writer-director Clio Barnard knocked it out of the park, straight out of the gate, to combine two metaphors.THE ARBOR (2010) is that rare beast, an original piece of cinema. Sophomore feature THE SELFISH GIANT (2013) is a Ken Loachian social discourse ending on an emotional gut-punch. It was thus with great anticipation one walked into DARK RIVER. Unfortunately, it disappoints. I think of TYRANNOSAUR (2011) in comparison, Paddy Considine's excellent feature debut, and DARK RIVER pales. Both are about abuse and the aftermath. Both have a cathartic prison scene. Both climax with death. If TYRANNOSAUR is a shriek of pain, DARK RIVER is a whimper. Too much of this film is unsurprising.

Opening on Alice Bell (Ruth Wilson) shearing sheep among her male colleagues. Not an eye is batted at her presence (and rightly so of course). It becomes clear she is adroit at farming and a hard worker. Standing there, with wool in hand, is in sharp contrast to her star making turn as a charismatic psychopath, playing another Alice, in TV show LUTHER. A colleague, Pete (Jonah Russell), states, “There’ll always be a place for you here.” Showing her professional worth, as well as the doe-eyed attraction to her. Alice recoils at the latter. She is due to return home after 15 years, on news of the death of her father.
 
Packing her things, there is a hallucination of a man, Richard (Sean Bean). Causing Alice distress, this sets off audience alarm bells. Is this her father? Was she away because of incest and rape? Turns out those are correct assumptions. Are the accurate guesses down to the cleverness of the filmmaking, or the predictability of the narrative? One wanted to give talented storyteller Barnard the benefit of the doubt; but that the conversational revelation is held back to the end, means one cannot. When Alice finally releases her trauma out loud in verbal form, it is unnecessary. The discourse does not add to what we have already surmised. We are just waiting for the release, but it comes too late and too simply.
 
Like 2016’s THE LEVELLING, DARK RIVER is also about a prodigal daughter returning to a farm after a family member passes. The ugliness of human nature is shown undermining the beauty of the U.K. countryside. While the former is an occasional commentary on British agriculture, DARK RIVER largely eschews politics and focuses on character. Alice’s brother Joe (Mark Stanley) has let their Yorkshire sheep farm go to seed, and she is determined to take over the tenancy. Why return to the scene of the crime? Does Alice hope to write over the past with new memories? Does she think re-living the misery at the venue will provide relief? The answers are not provided. Maybe she does not know them herself

What elevates DARK RIVER is the portrayal of how difficult it is to articulate family mistreatment. Anger, resentment and shame can tie the tongue. Alice looks to be suffering from post-traumatic stress.
 
There was no need for an overly dramatic culmination. It does not sit right with the taciturn atmosphere. Less is often more. The conclusion is a bit of a mess. And the last scene was a mistake. Why do upsetting movies often feel the need to rewind time and end on a happier moment? Such a grace note rings false, and undermines what has preceded.
http://www.filmaluation.com/dark-river.html


Offline Rebecca

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2017, 12:46:35 AM »

... DARK RIVER is also about a prodigal daughter returning to a farm after a family member passes.
http://www.filmaluation.com/dark-river.html

I don't think this guy knows what "prodigal" means, which makes it hard for me to take his review seriously.

Offline patch

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Re: Dark River reviews
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 06:00:56 AM »
BFI London Film Festival: Dark River review – Dark journey into a family’s underworld
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Writer/director Clio Barnard is a force of nature. Her magnificent first two features, The Arbor and The Selfish Giant, offered casually mythic underworlds, poisoned by poverty and rife with dysfunction.

Her new film touches on similar themes, though with less subtlety. Call it the curse of Rose Tremain (whose novel, Trespass, partly inspired the script). From Restoration to Ricky, Tremain’s pungent plots have yet to spawn a masterpiece.

A farmer (Sean Bean) sexually abuses his daughter Alice (Esme Creed-Miles) with the tacit support of his son, Joe (Aiden McCullough). Years later, with the farm virtually in ruins, Alice (Ruth Wilson), learns of her father’s death. She decides to take over the business. Semi-alcoholic Joe (Mark Stanley) has other ideas. Wilson is a brilliant actress, but is defeated by the skimpy and over-wrought script. Her Alice is not so much vulnerable as winsome. Stanley is more convincing.

Meanwhile, Creed-Miles’s raw eyes are hypnotic and various fields hum with insanely intense birdsong. Best of all, though, is P J Harvey’s bone-juddering voice, wailing “My father left me an acre of land...” as the camera roams over the haunted contents of a sideboard (including a tantalising photo of Alice and Joe’s “bitch” of a mum). Dark River is unlikely to break your heart, but stretches of the gothic landscape might just snake their way into your dreams.
https://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/film/bfi-london-film-festival-dark-river-review-dark-journey-into-a-family-s-underworld-a3653666.html


Ruth Wilson & Sean Bean Head Down A ‘Dark River’ For Clio Barnard [BFI London Film Fest Review]
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And now, an already-promising filmmaker puts on her wellies and heads out to the farm, with Clio Barnard (“The Arbor,” “The Selfish Giant”) and her third movie, “Dark River.” It’s her first effort in over four years, but sadly it’s not quite the triumphant return we were hoping for – although there is plenty to admire.

Barnard doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the reveal: the film is littered with flashbacks and near-hallucinatory glimpses of Bean (interestingly in a near-silent role), , which almost immediately reveal that Alice was sexually abused by her father after their mother’s death. The film’s greatest asset is the way that it’s cut: the past and present bleed into each other throughout, pushing through the sense of how her history unbalances and haunts her. Indeed, it’s in every sense except the literal, a ghost story.

It’s still evidently the work of a very talented filmmaker and is certainly never bad, but it also never lives up to its potential. Barnard has a long career ahead of her, but “Dark River” seems destined to be remembered, years now, as a minor work in her filmography.
https://theplaylist.net/dark-river-review-20171009/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter


https://film.list.co.uk/article/96347-dark-river/



« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 12:32:26 PM by patch »