The Movie Waffler New to BFI Player - GOD’S CREATURES | The Movie Waffler


A woman lies to protect her son from a co-worker's accusation.

Review by Blair MacBride

Directed by: Anna Rose Holmer, Saela Davis

Starring: Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, Aisling Franciosi, Declan Conlon, Marion O’Dwyer, Toni O’Rourke

God's Creatures poster

In a coastal Irish fishing village, factory floor manager Aileen (Emily Watson) lives the normal small-town existence. Her community is particularly tight-knit, not only as long-term work colleagues, but also as neighbours and friends. Consequently, the locale is hit hard after the death of another one of its fisherman sons, and a wake is held in his memory at the local pub. Despite the sombre circumstances, out of the blue, Aileen is overjoyed with the sudden return of her estranged son Brian (Paul Mescal). Having been away on an unexplained spell of "travelling" for some time - and not in contact for what appears to be even longer - Aileen understandably takes great joy in having her only son back home. They even begin to rekindle what was once a clearly close relationship. This contentment is short lived, however, when one of Aileen's close co-workers, Sarah (Aisling Franciosi), accuses Brian of a heinous sexual assault. Plagued with instinctual maternal protection, Aileen is forced to question her loyalties as a mother.

God's Creatures review

Taking place against the backdrop of murky waters, blustery conditions and the stunningly jagged terrain, every aspect of the creative process gels together seamlessly in God's Creatures. Co-directors Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer execute extraordinary orchestration over all the crucial elements to their heavy hitting new project; especially in light of this being the former's directorial debut. From the perfectly handled tone, to the progressively gripping tension, their work oozes class. Additionally, it complements the well-crafted script by Shane Crowley very aptly (Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly also is credited for the story alone).

Indeed, this feature has its tone set from the beginning after some ominous opening minutes, and Crowley's multi-layered script begins to showcase the archaic ideals of the old remote village. Not only this, but the film's narrative slow-burns to a gratifyingly muted crescendo despite its minimal dramatics, taking great care in handling the extremely sensitive subject matter.

God's Creatures review

Tribute should also be paid to the trifecta of striking performances from Watson, Mescal and Franciosi. Watson, a seasoned award nominated veteran, is brilliant as the conflicted Aileen. Her ability to convey the character's inner battle of conscience with every frame is exceptional. Mescal is as good as ever in his chilling role too, but it's Franciosi's portrayal of Sarah's real side of the story - the raw, emotionally charged, truthful account of events that most in the village pejoratively ignore - which is the more memorable out of the two.

Further to that, Chayse Irvin's harrowing cinematography and the score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans are both excellently placed for this atmospheric project. It's true that God's Creatures already benefits from a great deal of filmmaking prowess. The stellar performances and intricate writing are elevated, however, with the stunning visual and eerily aural storytelling. The tension within sequences is refreshed and enhanced thanks to clever camera shots and a sinister strings-led score.

God's Creatures review

As such, God's Creatures is a powerful, richly thought-provoking film. You do have to bear with the slower nature of storytelling; audiences will need to exercise patience with its unhurried pacing to appreciate the full effect of the piece. Nevertheless, this shouldn't detract from the film's impactful lasting footprint on the mind.

God's Creatures is on BFI Player now.

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