The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - THE BELLWETHER | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - THE BELLWETHER

the bellwether film review
A woman is held prisoner in a chapel by an unseen conspiracy.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Christopher Morrison

Starring: Alex Reid, Flora Plumb, Sally Clawson

the bellwether film poster

A film that claims to speak to and for the ‘#metoo’ and ‘Time's up’ generation makes me equal parts excited and apprehensive; and I must admit that when finding it is written and directed by a man (Christopher Morrison) I am even more hesitant. This is such a watershed moment for feminists and so there's a lot of weight for a film to carry on its shoulders. Unfortunately, for me and for this film, The Bellwether buckles under that weight.

Our heroine, and indeed the only person ever onscreen throughout the film's runtime, awakens in a church, alone and clearly trapped.

Scenes from her life play across a large monitor above were she sits at the altar. It poses boldly written questions such as “Are you happy?” She watches in horror as intimate moments of her life are played out.

the bellwether film review

She has been kidnapped by ‘The Conspiracy’; their true motive remains unknown but tormenting her with past ‘sins’ seems to be high on their agenda.

They inform her she is a ‘Bellwether’, which is essentially a trendsetter, someone who breaks away from the expected.

Having passed out again, she awakens pregnant, very pregnant, and naturally utterly confused as to how that can be.

A Skype call to her mother just confuses the situation and the words on the screen tell her she needs to have the baby to atone for her ‘Big Guilt’.

Her name, we learn, is Joanne; and the collective tells her she is a ‘shell personality’, which I assume means she has many other personalities living inside her and this outer shell of conformity and meekness is just one of them.

An enraging abortion debate ensues in which she responds to the silly emotive shaming with mostly the correct answers.

the bellwether film review

She talks to ex-girlfriend Maria on the phone, who tells her to just do what they say. Some deaths seem to occur and then we are introduced to another iteration of Joanne; this one claims to be a goddess of death who steals souls, sorry, auras.

There are different versions of Joanne, and how they interact is the basic crux of the story; there is an enlightened Joanne and a docile one, not to mention Joanne the activist.

Tellingly, the most feminist character is all shaved head and anger and destruction.

Aside from the very obvious final act’s lesson I’m unsure what the film-maker is trying to say here, and also how it ties in to ‘Times up’ and #metoo.

the bellwether film review

Aside from the acting, I found it uninspired and a tad dull. For such vibrant and vital movements I really want more bang for my buck, and I found this lacking in vision.

However, for a film that is solely one woman in a room, they have chosen quite a lovely room in which to tell her story - this 14th century chapel is as decorative and pleasing to the eye as you would hope.

Acting-wise, Alex Reid, a stand out in The Descent, gives it her all here, and her conviction to this project seems unwavering and commendable. Nevertheless, despite what I’m sure were everyone’s best intentions, it didn’t work for me. It may be "the worlds first English language one-woman feature film," but it had little else to offer beyond its aforementioned good intentions.

What a pity.

The Bellwether is on Digital HD February 12th.

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