7th October 2017 9.30pm at Odeon Leicester Square
12th October 2017 2.15pm at Odeon Leicester Square
A British Drama film, Dark River takes place in the North of England, most probably Yorkshire, on the Bell Family Farm. The skies loom over the beautiful scenic shots of the surrounding pastures in a grey foreboding hue. Albeit, the world is a little bit wetter up north, but the inhabitants are built with thicker skin. Farming life may not be for some, but for others it is a passage to satisfaction, but only if it is theirs to control.
Alice Bell (Ruth Wilson) is working abroad when she is told the unfortunate news of her father’s passing. Feeling the burden of her old home now he is gone, she returns to where she grew up and so many memories, good and bad, were made. After arriving back at the farm, she finds it in poor condition and her brother in an even worse shape. The siblings must learn to adapt to each other’s way of running the farm or face losing their own hold on the premises, whilst the visions of Alice’s abuse-filled past come back to haunt her.
Mark Stanley, who plays Alice’s brother Joe Bell, bears a powerful screen presence throughout the film, installing fear, pity and empathy into the hearts of the audience. His onscreen chemistry with Ruth Wilson holds a beautiful passion and one could question whether they really were related in real life. Sean Bean plays the role of Alice and Joe’s father, Richard, and although only a minor character carries a frightening and dangerous persona wherever he briefly appears.
The farm is all the siblings have left to hold together what once was, both emotionally and physically, and Dark River offers an account of how raw family issues and values can act against each other in the most horrific of ways. The lack of music maintains the film’s naturalistic style, partnered with stunning scenic shots that build the movie’s visual element up to a higher level. A number of different themes are investigated, from sexual abuse, friendships and trauma, all of which accumulate into an engaging picture. The film does escalate to a rather over-dramatic ending that lacks a realistic touch, but the strength of the performances from this small cast overshadows this flaw.
Dark River is released nationwide on 23rd February 2018.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.