The Movie Waffler New to VOD - INLAND | The Movie Waffler


A troubled young man returns home after spending time in a psychiatric institution.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Fridtjof Ryder

Starring: Rory Alexander, Mark Rylance, Kathryn Hunter, Shaun Dingwall, Nell Williams

Inland poster

The influence of Britain's 1970s Folk movement is writ large across Inland, a feature debut from director Fridtjof Ryder that recalls the more experimental entries of BBC's classic Play for Today series. With a young man searching for his identity amid symbols of England's pagan past, it has much in common with Alan Clarke's 1974 TV movie Penda's Fen.

inland review

An unnamed young man (played by Rory Alexander, so I'll refer to him as Rory from hereon) is released from a psychiatric institute where he spent time for an assault that left his brother hospitalised. We learn the fight was an offshoot of their free-spirited but troubled Romany mother disappearing, not for the first time by all accounts. Rory tapes a photograph of his mum onto a mirror on his car's dashboard so he can "see her then and me now."

Rory returns home to Dunleavy (Mark Rylance), a father figure whose exact relationship to the young man is unclear. Dunleavy gives Rory some shifts at his garage and hopes it will keep Rory out of trouble, but a visit to a strip club/brothel, where he encounters a sex worker who resembles his mother, leads him down a troubled path.

inland review

The surrealist elements arrive early in Inland with a flashback to Rory's childhood in which his mother is envisioned as a statue in a forest. Later, the workers at the strip club are similarly represented as such figurines in a sequence that owes much to the Black Lodge of Twin Peaks. Throughout, we get a sense that Rory is being drawn to the forest, perhaps to follow in his mother's footsteps. In his finest piece of acting in quite some time, Rylance delivers an unsettling monologue about how Rory's mother was drawn to nature, but he found the forest dark and disturbing. "Too old," he shudders with recollection.

After spending most of the past decade in Hollywood, Rylance gets the sort of nuanced role that better suits his talents, free from the tics and gurning he's become known for recently. The actor really sells Dunleavy's affection for Rory, and there's a powerful moment where the latter leaves a scene but the camera remains on Rylance's face, filled with worry and apprehension. These are two very British men who can't come out with their feelings, but Ryder knows how to exploit both his performers' faces to clue us into what they're going through at any given moment.

inland review

Ultimately, Inland is something of an enigma. I'm not quite sure I took everything in on this watch, and I suspect it may reveal an extra layer or two with further viewings. It's a simple tale at heart but the addition of surrealist elements and the haunting vibes of England's buried pagan past make it stand out from other gritty British dramas. With Inland, Ryder and Alexander have marked themselves as ones to watch.

 is on UK/ROI VOD now.