4th October 2019 9.00pm at Curzon Soho
6th October 2019 3.15pm at Vue West End
11th October 2019 8.50pm at Vue West End
In spite of its muddled genre and confused strands of sexual tension, Make Up’s most glaring flaw may just be its name. It is somehow both on the nose and absolutely nothing to do with the film it titles. Perhaps it simply describes director Claire Oakley’s hollow but decently pretty film.
After eighteen-year-old Ruth (Molly Windsor) moves in with her boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) in a remote coastal holiday park, her mind plays tricks on her as she navigates life on the windy cliffs. Attempting to make their house a home, Ruth folds up her boyfriend’s clothes only to discover an ominous strand of red hair clinging to his clothes and a lipstick stain smeared on his bedroom mirror. It’s a catalyst for Ruth’s growing insecurity and suspicions concerning the man with whom she now lives.
It’s hard to trace which elements of the story Oakley tries to invest her audience in. At first, it is Ruth’s suspicions about her boyfriend’s affair. At other times, it is the descent down the rabbit hole as Ruth seemingly loses her grip on what she sees and hears. Finally, the film turns its attention to a burgeoning sexual relationship between Ruth and Jade (Stefanie Martini), a fellow employee in the camp.
Oakley creates an elemental backdrop to the drama. Employees plastic-wrap the homes up for the winter season, generating an interesting visual of man against the insurmountable power of nature. The wild, untamed sea and the brutal winds barrelling at the coast also create a dramatic underbelly. Unfortunately, the tense undercurrents never reach the surface in Make Up.
Oakley relies on the natural world as well as the erratic but intense sound design to create a psychological layer that never materialises in the narrative. Ruth does not only imagine a red-haired phantom; strange wails emanate from beneath the caravans and a mysterious figure appears in the plastic sheeting. These fractured elements are a distracting siphon deviating our attention from the heart of the story.
Make Up does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch a clip from Make Up here: