Justine is a thoughtful, considered exploration into addiction from director Jamie Patterson (Tucked), which focuses on a cautiously blossoming relationship between two women. It is a depiction of the way in which humans hold and carry our pain, and how we can become our own worst enemy in the process.
Using picturesque Brighton as its backdrop, the audience follows Justine (Tallulah Haddon) – a young girl who cannot seem to shake away the prying hands of addiction – as she enters a relationship she may not be quite prepared for. While the protagonist has settled to accept life as it is, her partner, Rachel (Sophie Reid), appears to be everything she is not – quiet, ambitious and ready for something new. Though their romantic connection is clear, it seems that their stories are heading towards vastly different endings.
The cyclical narrative, which sees Justine shift between sobriety and dependency, echoes the reality of substance abuse. The theme is not something that viewers can easily move away from, as it always finds a way to pull spectators back to the start of the journey. While some could argue that the film has a distinctly bleak outlook, others will rightly reason that it refuses to sugar coat this real experience. Addiction is not a hobby that is picked up to pass the time, it takes a firm grasp of all those involved – from the person struggling to those who love them.
Justine brings to light the stark truths of alcoholism through unflinching cinematography and a powerful plot that relies just as heavily on silence as it does dialogue. In fact, it is the quiet moments between Justine and Rachel – underscored with music by Richey Rynkowski – that have the most lasting impact on the observer. That being said, at times it is hard to find the light in this portrayal; the feature could have perhaps benefited from an occasional moment of release.
Nevertheless – with stellar performances from Haddon and Reid – Justine is a thought-provoking yet difficult watch that values honesty above all else.
Justine is released on 5th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Justine here: