Tasha Connor plays Lily, a down on her luck prostitute who has a chance encounter with architect Joe (Tom Hughes). With gnawing guilt, he returns to his beautiful wife Annabel (Rita Gedmintas), and tries his best to put the incident behind him. As these things go, nothing works out well.
Bafta nominated writer and director Jane Linfoot’s feature debut is a wonderfully disjointed and awkward thriller that is pointedly human and oddly ethereal all in once. The theme of chance encounters is contained within the minimalist script itself, where the audience meets the characters with little-to-no backstory, as if we too blundered into their lives. It can make for hard viewing: seemingly insignificant actions become loaded as viewers strive to make sense of these people’s identities. The way Lily washes her hands after “working” with Joe implies a medical background, and one begin to wonder at her lost potential.
The actors are all capable, and while it’s hard to shine in an understated production like this, Lily manages to remain captivating and believable throughout, without being reduced to the role of helpless waif.
The otherworldly feel of the movie extends into the detached camera work and muted styling. Soft whites, pinks and greys blend in a trendy palette that feels dreamlike and romantic, which jars intentionally with the subject matter. This is reinforced by the stylised soundscape that feels desolate and eerie.
As the plot develops, through overused tropes like a pregnancy scare and pensive staring to show inner turmoil, tension begins to build. Lily roams the forest and house, leaving watchers ill at ease, but it feels slightly aimless. The focus of the tension may be to juxtapose the idea of freedom as a sex worker and confines of a marriage, or simply the social injustice of working versus the upper classes.
The Incident’s subjectivity makes it a thoughtful film, but it doesn’t manage to nail a question down and analyse it. This is a leap from the conventions of Hollywood and can feel quite alien, but the picture encourages its audience to make independent decisions about morality and character that are normally decided for them.
What its message is may be a mystery, but this is a solid piece of cinema that will get viewers thinking. The grey ethicality hits close to home making it a beautiful, relatable and sometimes uncomfortable watch that will linger in the mind.
The Incident is released in selected cinemas on 25th November 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Incident here: