British cinema has a long-standing tradition of making socially conscious movies. Directors like Ken Loach and Shane Meadows have used the medium to bring to our attention the suffering of those whom society most often ignores. Sink, writer and director Mark Gillis’s feature debut, clearly stands on the shoulders of this canon. The film follows the mixed fortunes of Micky (Martin Herdman) as he strives to find some luck. In this sensitive look at class, poverty and masculinity, we cannot help but root for him.
This facet of UK cinema grows ever more poignant in austerity Britain. But this is far from simply being a lamentation over the status quo. Amidst the labyrinthine bureaucracy and morally tortuous decisions, there is an everyday humour, a simple kindness. In other words, the greyness of the surroundings is effectively punctured with a very human light. The movie is sometimes uncomfortably real, but equally playful and unexpected. It is in these incongruous moments, too, where the feature most effectively makes its point.
The emotional breadth of this film is to be commended, and this is owed to solid acting and writing. Herdman is charming, honest, utterly lovable – all in the strongest possible terms. Without the magnetic goodness he exudes, the quality of the picture would easily be halved. Ian Hogg as the ageing Sam, vulnerable and strong, weaves the themes of masculinity and generational struggles together with great understatement.
Admittedly, Sink lacks some delicacy in its treatment of certain themes, and individual scenes occasionally indulge in caricature. Though excellent character narratives are alluded to, not enough is perhaps made of independent journeys, and even Micky’s story appears somehow frayed and slightly unfocused. Still, this is a heartrending movie about a hopelessness that shows no sign of abating, and extraordinary people who persist in the face of it.
Sink is released in select cinemas on 21st June 2018.
Watch the trailer for Sink here: