Film Review: The Levelling (2016)

Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling is a haunting film debut, and a grim one too

“There’s nothing for you here anymore”

Eee, it’s grim to be a farmer in the UK right now, if we’re to believe what we see in the cinema. At least in Yorkshire, there’s the chance of some hot gay sex but in Somerset, things look decidedly worse with not even that relief as an option.

Writer/director Hope Dickson Leach finds something more desperate in the unforgiving land of the Somerset levels, as she explores the fracturing of a family farm in the aftermath of the death of the son and heir. Trainee vet Clover returns for the funeral of her brother but is shocked at what she discovers.

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Review: Correspondence, Old Red Lion

“This isn’t bunking off to Stockport, to play Laser Quest at Grand Central. This is the kind of activity that sets us apart from the dross.”

And what activity it is. Clever enough to not really need to revise for his upcoming GCSEs, 16-year-old Ben spends most of his spare time on Xbox Live but when his Syrian friend Jibreel disappears from his contact list, he decides to launch a rescue mission from his Stockport bedroom. But it’s not quite as simple as all that, Torn between squabbling divorced parents, Ben’s home life has been significantly troubled and as it is 2011, the murmurings of civil unrest abroad herald what would soon be known as the Arab Spring.

Lucinda Burnett’s Correspondence thus straddles two immensely weighty subjects. The power and potential of mass protest in a nascent revolution and how we connect to it as global citizens, but also the complexity and cruelty of incipient psychosis and again, the difficulties it poses in connecting with others. Over a running time of just 80 minutes, the play doesn’t always manage to engage and interrogate fully the enormity of these issues, relying on a plot contrivance or two too many to convince that they’re being explored efficaciously. Continue reading “Review: Correspondence, Old Red Lion”