Stories of love and war are traditionally intertwined and conveyed via the epic genre. Conversely for this film, Gareth Jones has chosen to explore the much overlooked victims of war: photojournalists. The individuals, in the midst of war, are there to witness the horror firsthand; they document them without intervention – and also consequently the impact this has on an individual.
The story follows a photojournalist calling herself Echo (Jeanne Balibar) who retreats to a remote Welsh village with her two children. She begins a love affair with a young local Zac (Gavin Fowler) and seeks some hidden truths in the event of the passing of Jo, her former lover and Zac’s father. The film tackles other such issues as war crimes, mental illness and the inner turmoil of guilt and grief.
There’s a lot occurring here, and unfortunately this is a major misstep from writer/director Gareth Jones. In addition to the plotline there are also subplots with additional layers, including Jo’s affair with a local village girl and Zac’s grandmother with dementia. In Jones’ ambitious attempt to cram everything into a 101 minute film, these plot lines aren’t given enough breathing space to allow the audience to penetrate for further analysis.
There is also a recurring visual motif of guilt via the ghostly images of Jo and other victims. It’s apparent this is meant to be metaphorical, but due to some of the voyeuristic camera angles, it can imply that the ghostly Jo is watching them literally. This can deter from the naturalism of the environment.
However, despite such narrative criticisms, the onscreen chemistry between Zac and Echo oozes and this is where the film shines. The directing, the cinematography, the script and the performances wonderfully convey the troubled Echo and the desperate Zac who are both trying to find meaning and love in each other. These are delivered with such gravitas that one forgets the compacted film. The minimal exposition conveying Echo’s troubled mind and this conflict with Zac’s frustration will distress those who have suffered, as it’s done with such poise.
Delight offers too many components, which inhibits much exploration, but when the film focuses on the leading two, the drama comes into its own. This personal project from filmmaker Gareth Jones was perhaps too personal as there’s minimal maneuverability for audiences to get beneath the narrative’s skin.
Delight is released in selected cinemas on 1st August 2014.
Watch the trailer for Delight here: