18th October 2018 6.15pm at Vue West End
21st October 2018 12.15pm at Vue West End
A story about the reuniting of a broken family, Celeste tells the intimate tale of a how a precipitately retired opera singer finds solace deep in the rainforests of Queensland at Paronella Park, along with her husband and his son. Following a devastating event, Celeste (Radha Mitchell) and her step-son Jack (Thomas Cocquerel) find themselves drifting apart as the latter grows independent and wishes to leave memories of the tragedy behind.
When ten years have passed, Celeste wishes to perform one last time in the picturesque woodland setting of her home, but requires Jack’s return to help her with one more favour. Working as a manual labourer, her step-son himself has fallen upon hard times. Outstanding debts have left him hunted by loan sharks and fearing his next move. A letter from his mother proves to be the answer he is searching for and Jack travels back to Paronella to help with the preparations. His return stirs deep, passionate emotions buried by both characters, invoking a turbulent reunion in which family secrets and feelings are unearthed, presenting new obstacles for the two to overcome in the days leading up to the concert.
Set amongst vast swathes of woodland greenery, Celeste is visually a picturesque paradise hidden deep inside the tropical forests of Australia. The screenplay was written by the film’s director Ben Hackworth and the late Billie Brown, evidently having been waiting in the wings considering Brown passed away five years ago, but the end product is as beautiful as he would have envisioned. The real Paronella Park, where most of the movie’s content takes place, is a genuine location of pure exquisiteness and helps add a sense of grandeur to the context of the plot, which is slightly lacking a determined direction in relation to key moments.
The focus instead is primarily on the relationship between Cocquerel’s Jack – an alluring, brooding individual still lacking self-confidence in adulthood – and Radha Mitchell’s flickering star Celeste. The duo has an intriguing on-screen chemistry that builds a sense of will from the audience, pushing the characters together and keeping the plot ticking up to a final climax that is well-preserved and unforeseen until the appropriate moment. It is the relationship between the central pair that builds Celeste into a fairy-tale love story, but thankfully for both the picture and the audience, this film has a very different outcome than you may expect.
Celeste does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.