“None of this is fun”, teenager Josh (Samuel Davies) says to his mother Bethan (Melanie Walters) as they sit together on a bank overlooking the sea – and he’s right. The debut feature film from the independent production company Long Arm Films is certainly not much fun.
High Tide is the story of a mother and son who have become disconnected from one another due to a domestic problem between father and mother. But instead of being an interesting and intimate study in human drama, this film is, unfortunately, incredibly dull.
High Tide, directed and written by Jimmy Hay and James Gillingham, spends the majority of its screen time on Walters (Gavin and Stacey) and Davies as they attempt to bond on the Gower coastline. There are several references to space in the film, which clearly allude to the space that the two need in order for them to be honest – with each other and with themselves. The rural setting gives them the freedom that their claustrophobic urban town cannot. This juxtaposition is set up from the very beginning, with an isolated Bethan running a tap at home, and later walking by the sea talking about life. The open space forces Josh to wake up to the painful reality of his mother’s plight.
High Tide has a good concept and it deals with a sensitive issue respectfully, but it doesn’t manage to convey these ideas cinematically. The acting is below par from both Walters and Davies. Walters in particular is overly theatrical in her performance: when talking to Davies she comes across as a storyteller sitting around a campfire rather than a mother having a conversation with her son. She is so urgent in making her story believable that it comes across as utterly unbelievable. When she reminisces about being “cutting-edge”, it is overdone to the point of embarrassment.
It feels as if Walters and Davies are reading their lines off a sheet. There is no flow or natural affectation to the dialogue. Thankfully, the natural surroundings give High Tide some cinematic quality, but it’s not enough to stop you from feeling as if you’re watching a poor Welsh television soap.
High Tide is released nationwide on 6th March 2015.
Watch the trailer for High Tide here: