The Drowning of Arthur Braxton
Adapted from the cult novel of the same name by Caroline Smailes and helmed by YouTube star Luke Cutforth in his first feature film, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton centres around the titular teenager, who’s played wonderfully by James Tarpey. Bullied at school and a young carer for his alcoholic depressive father (Johnny Vegas), Arthur is on the verge of taking his own life at the start of the film. However, a siren song leads him to an abandoned bath house that’s scheduled for demolition. Inside he meets Delphine (Rebecca Hanssen) swimming naked in the pool, and as Arthur’s life begins to spiral out of his control, she becomes his escape. However, there’s something mystical at play.
A lot of passion has been poured into this Kickstarter-funded project by everyone involved. That’s evident through the dedicated performances from the leads alongside the visual creativity Cutforth demonstrates behind the camera. The Drowning of Alex Braxton effortlessly balances its melancholic themes of bullying, depression and alcoholism with a wry sense of humour and sense of wonderment. Thematically, this film is in the same sphere as I Kill Giants and A Monster Calls in how it blends real world hardships with the fantastical. Unlike those films, Cutforth’s distinguishes itself with an added sense of mystery that borders on becoming a horror-thriller at times.
An intriguing subplot hinting at the grim fates of missing children is put on the back-burner so that the script can focus on Arthur’s own struggles. The plot hits every beat required in this regard for the teenager’s arc to resonate with viewers. But when the time comes to dive back into the supernatural elements towards the final act, the revelations come across as an anti-climax thanks to their underdevelopment. Thankfully, the onscreen rapport between Tarpey and Hanssen ensures the emotional connection remains intact.
Born through crowdfunding and a project that was over five years in the making, the fact this film has released makes it something special. But it’s the tremendous amount of hard work and passion evident in every scene and performance that makes The Drowning of Arthur Braxton a heartwarming gem that’s worth seeking out.
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is released in select cinemas on 2nd September 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Drowning of Arthur Braxton here: