Every so often there is a film of monumental importance, holding up a mirror to our society and shocking viewers with a tenebrosity darker than any cinema theatre. It’s indicative of the times (with soaring rent prices, crippling austerity and rising inequality) that we’ve had two such releases in a matter of months. Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake came first and deservedly gained plaudits from both critics and the Labour Party, after it shone a light on an increasingly indifferent and underfunded state welfare system. Daisy-May Hudson’s Half Way is the latest cinematic reflection on an economic system that is failing the people who need its support so desperately.
Half Way is an immersive documentary, directed by the hugely talented Hudson, who has blossomed on to the scene and looks set to stay. This emotionally evocative portrayal stars Daisy along with her mother Beverly and 13-year-old sister Bronte. Revealing an uncaring and unaccountable system, underpinned by a lack of affordable housing and enforced by a bureaucracy of jobsworth housing workers, lawyers and landlords, the family decide to take back agency and over the course of a year, this project seems to be one of the only things they can actually control. Through intimate interiority in the various hostels, viewers are granted an insight into a woefully failing system.
The filming is quite basic and watches like a home movie, however, this helps to really express the reality of the documentary. It’s a gritty wake up call of a film rather than a Hollywood blockbuster and stylistically the grainy, handheld camera footage functions very well. Though it is also evident that Hudson really knows her craft and recurrent close-ups of keys going into locks, as well as zoomed-in shots of a chain, are very effective. These serve to emphasise that the family has been locked out of the unaffordable housing market, becoming entrapped through the neglect surrounding homelessness.
The project is very timely, considering the BBC’s recent revelation that affordable housing in England is at its lowest for 24 years. Furthermore, the homeless charity, Shelter (who are promoting partners of Half Way), report that every ten minutes a UK family is becoming homeless. This is not the realm of fiction, rather, awful indisputable facts, and if one were to look into social care and mental health services they would discover similarly destructive trends.
Half Way is released in selected cinemas on 2nd December 2016.
Watch the trailer for Half Way here: