Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 90 minutes
SIFF Says:Grey, gritty pastorals, dark emerging clouds, and obscure undertones—these all exemplify the tense, sharp, and volatile film DARK RIVER, a film about childhood abuse that reaches treacherously into adulthood. Ruth Wilson (ANNA KAREINA) is Alice Bell, a weary drifter who has moved from farm to farm through England’s Yorkshire countryside as a sheep shearer. When Alice hears news of her father’s sudden passing, she returns home to claim the house and property. Her irascible brother, however, Joe Bell (Mark Stanley), refuses to give up the land, spending much of his time in anger, drunk, and then angry again. While Alice does her best to work with her brother, unspoken differences between the two slowly begin bursting outward, causing intense sibling conflict. This rivalry between brother and sister is further exacerbated when Alice’s past gradually comes to light: Alice was sexually abused by her father as a little girl; and Joe, her older brother, did nothing to stop it. DARK RIVER is a vividly shot film that captures the haunting beauty of the Yorkshire countryside. It is, moreover, an intense film with two extraordinary actors playing two very broken characters who are plagued with ghosts from the past. It’s a film that will get under your fingernails and deep into your skin, a film perfectly defined as a psychological-drama-thriller.
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