20 November 2006 | cliffhanley_
Edge-of-the-seat thriller and existential three-courser
This, the first undiluted Dogme production to be officially made in the UK, benefits right away from the use of tiny hand-held digi-cams, as quite a lot of the action takes place in the heroine's crowded council house or in the cramped trailer inhabited by two immigrants, Tasha (Chloe Sirene) and her mother Irina, played by the wonderful Rula Lenska.
The council house is run by Helen (Pauline McLynn), who having raised her own two kids now has to mind her daughter Kelly's (Tamzin Dunstone) baby, while coping with a husband (Paul McGann) who has clearly lost his lust for life and believes he has been short-changed at the existential check-out. This situation is first explored from Helen's point-of-view: Kelly's college chum Tasha invited in for tea but having to put up with dad's railing against 'them immigrants, crowding into this tiny country and taking our jobs'. In this sequence, the family is fragmenting, several red herrings are chucked at us from the start, friendships are forged, the whole family throws itself into change, everyone tries to find their own way of surviving but it all seems to end in despair. Then we get it all again, from Paul's side. A natural reaction to this might be 'hold, enough!' - but now we get to see whence some of those herrings, and several more puzzlers are laid like booby traps, which may be opened eventually in the 'Tasha' story. Although there was no script, the overall structure, resembling a jigsaw being put together, must have been mapped out - it doesn't look as if it was all done in the cutting room. It works very well as a dark mystery edge-of-the-seat thriller; and just as well as an exploration of the forces of circumstance and the impulses that we employ (or imagine we employ) to deal with those forces. CLIFF HANLEY