Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/Luxembourg, 2015. Hurricane Films, Iris Productions, SellOutPictures. Screenplay by Terence Davies, based on the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Cinematography by Michael McDonough. Produced by Roy Boulter, Sol Papadopoulos, Nicolas Steil. Music by Gast Waltzing. Production Design by Andy Harris. Costume Design by Uli Simon. Film Editing by David Charap, Ruy Diaz. Online Film Critics Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
A young woman (Agyness Deyn) grows up on a farm under the oppressive tyranny of her abusive father (Peter Mullan, who rarely plays anything else), watching as he dominates her desperate mother and makes an enemy of her thoughtful brother. Time passes, the seasons bring change and soon she is a lady running the estate and exchanging glances with a handsome neighbor with whom she feels a deep affection. Hard work on the farm is paired with peace and love at home until the modern world brings the horrors of war, which interrupts her peaceful idyll and brings domestic devastation in this delicate adaptation of the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Gorgeous shots of golden wheat fields and deep sunsets shot in 70 millimeter are combined with sharp digital images that bring vivid life to interior scenes in a film that barely sounds above a whisper and is brimming over with deep affection. Director Terence Davies films rural life like someone who has never lived in it, the film is an overripe romance in which owning a farm is all cozy fires and friendly barn gatherings, while the love burgeoning between the main couple is given more memorable sensuality than has been displayed in a modern film in a long time. The rushed, incongruous conflict between them in the last third is the only jarring false note in a film that otherwise travels a smooth line, the kind of dramatic development that only makes sense if you enjoy passion as a mindset unto itself (but really it suggests that it’s a much bigger novel that has been pared down). Davies presents his female protagonist with the same sincere love he gives to all the women in his films, though, enduring the world of men with strength of character and, in this case, upright good sense, and Deyn carries the entire film with exceptional skill.