In Pond Life, set in a small mining village in the middle of Yorkshire, it’s summertime in 1994. Trevor hears the rumour about a giant carp in the nearby decoy ponds and takes his friends and neighbours on a fishing expedition to the pools during the night.
This film winds through stories of broken families, loss, growing pains and love in a beautiful and genuine way that isn’t often seen in much script writing. The story pulls the viewer in with false hopes of something upbeat and light-hearted, only to surprise us and turn into something much more significant. Pond Life shows that amid the mundanity of everyday life there are many shining moments, which will make the audience subconsciously start smiling, such as a scene in the bingo hall with the Game Master yelling, “What is the English word for ‘”fromige?” (fromage with a Yorkshire accent). Richard Cameron’s play has been wonderfully translated for the screen, in what is a well-shot and carefully directed film by Bill Buckhurst.
Each of Cameron’s characters presents a specific type of emotion. Tom Varey’s Trevor successfully draws out that feeling of displacement, of someone becoming a 20-something and realising they don’t have their plans intact yet, while Malcolm (Angus Imrie) reminds us what it was like to be hopelessly and embarrassingly in love. Shane’s (Gianluca Gallucci) curiosity nearly gets him in trouble but sometimes that can lead down a painful, though exciting, road. Though Maurice (Abraham Lewis) seems to thrive on the bad feelings people project onto him, the actor also shows the boy’s hurt and loneliness as he reaches for affection. But it is Esme Creed-Miles as Pogo who seems to hold the heart of the film, as she portrays a character who has been through so much pain and anguish. Despite dealing with difficulties on a daily basis, Pogo is the one smiling and holding on to love and joy wherever she can find it.
On the outside, this is an idyllic, slice-of-life drama about the joys of a summer spent chasing a fishy legend. However, underneath, Pond Life holds so much more. Each character strives to bear their burdens and struggles, yet they share a moment of blissful happiness and harmony when they finally see the carp for themselves.
Amaliah S Marmon-Halm
Pond Life is released in select cinemas on 26th April 2019.
Watch the trailer for Pond Life here: