The Movie Waffler New Release Review - THE END WE START FROM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - THE END WE START FROM

The End We Start From review
A young mother attempts to find her way home when London is destroyed by floods.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mahalia Belo

Starring: Jodie Comer, Joel Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, Mark Strong, Gina McKee

The End We Start From poster

Director Mahalia Belo and screenwriter Alice Birch's adaptation of Megan Hunter's novel The End We Start From views an apocalyptic event through the eyes of a young mother. Not just any eyes, but the big expressive eyes of rising star Jodie Comer. Her compelling performance elevates what is otherwise a largely indistinctive take on the apocalypse.

The End We Start From review

The film takes place in the aftermath of mass flooding that destroy's Britain's urban centres. Belo doesn't have the budget to shut down city centre streets but she finds clever ways to convey the chaos. The opening scene is perhaps the film's highlight as we spend time alone with our pregnant protagonist (Comer, whose character is credited simply as "Woman" while everyone else is credited with merely a letter of the alphabet) in her London home. What begins as a regular bit of London rain outside gradually escalates to something far more sinister. The power goes out and water begins to seep under the doors. Just as London's water is breaking, the woman goes into labour, waking up in a hospital as the city descends into chaos outside.


The woman and her boyfriend, R (Joel Fry), decide to leave the city and head for what they assume is the safety of the country, where R's parents (Mark Strong and Nina Sosanya) reside. That illusion is soon shattered as a series of tragic events lead to the woman and her newborn, Zeb (the only character in the movie that gets a name), entering a mass shelter. There she befriends another young mother (Katherine Waterston) and the two make the best of their lot until the worst of humanity strikes once again.

The End We Start From review

This subject matter has been covered so thoroughly at this point that much of The End We Start From is rehashing well worn tropes. There are scenes that resemble outtakes from '70s grimfest No Blade of Grass, Children of Men and the later scenes of generation scarring TV drama Threads, not to mention 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us and any number of post-apocalyptic media.


What makes it stand out somewhat from a crowded field is the centring of a protagonist who is a genuine everywoman. Comer's young mother is completely out of her depth in this scenario, as would 99% of the population in such a crisis. She makes decisions that seem naive and unwise, and even acts in a manner that suggests she doesn't have the best interests of her child at heart. Watching her eschew the comforts of a commune to traipse across wind beaten moors with her baby strapped precariously to her chest, it would be easy to frown upon her, but Comer adds a vital touch of humanity and naivete to the character. Belo wisely keeps the camera close to her lead actress at all times, allowing the surrounding chaos to be conveyed by her facial expressions and making up for the lack of elaborate crowd scenes.

The End We Start From review

The film too often takes narrative shortcuts to tell its story in a constrictive time frame. The storytelling is episodic in nature, suggesting it may have fared better as a mini-series, and it moves in and out of its various vignettes without giving each new development room to breath. Too often dialogue is used to fill in blanks, like how a character played by Benedict Cumberbatch tells us the problem with the commune rather than letting the viewer decipher it for themselves. The woman talks a lot about how deeply in love she and her boyfriend were, but despite some flashbacks we never really get the sense that they were soulmates. Fry, an actor whose strong suit is in more comedic fare, is miscast and struggles to sell his character's psychological state. Ultimately, just as her character is left alone in an unreliable world, Comer is left to cradle a film that would be largely unremarkable without her presence.

The End We Start From
 is in UK//ROI cinemas from January 19th.



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