Sulphur and White
From BAFTA-nominated director Julian Jarrold and writer Susie Farrell comes Sulphur and White, the true story of city trader and mountaineer David Tait (Mark Stanley). This film explores the relationship between David’s success in business and his failure in maintaining a family, which is inextricably linked to his childhood trauma. Until he meets the love of his life Vanessa Tait (Emily Beecham), David carries the burden of trauma in silence, which destroys any familial relations he seeks to form. The ways in which the conditions for child abuse are constructed and its crippling psychological effects on the victim are the main focus of the narrative. However, its sensationalist depiction of sexual exploitation ostensibly undermines the complex nature of the healing process.
Sulphur and White is not one to hurry to the cinema for and it is certainly not one to watch for a second time. This film is two hours of enduring a flagellating viewing experience. The healing power of the child-turned-man and his dedication to his work is simply negated by the story’s narrow focus. The narrative suggests that material success is a viable way to overcome trauma, glamorising suffering so that the viewer witnesses the abuse almost sadistically, detached from the reality of it. Having said that, it is interesting to see the exaggerated depiction of sexuality so desperately interwoven with power, evidenced by David’s extreme high off of his success as well as an active sex-life juxtaposed with his childhood trauma.
The film’s attempt to be true to the reality of trauma is lacking in substance, merely hinting at relevancy through its many unexplored subplots. It compensates for this with the subject matter’s heavy emotional load that stays with the viewer. Stanley delivers a very polished performance, and when joined with the tenderness of Beecham, together they make a complete picture. Overall, Sulphur and White triggers the necessary emotions required to connect with a story, but its attention is set on shock factor, which contradicts the profound and insightful journey of the redemptive power of love.
Sulphur and White is released nationwide on 6th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for Sulphur and White here: