The Movie Waffler New Release Review - TO NOWHERE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - TO NOWHERE

To Nowhere review
Two self-destructive friends embark on an alcohol-fuelled trip around a forgotten corner of London.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Sian Astor-Lewis

Starring: Josefine Glaesel, Lilit Lesser, Orlando Seale, Michael Warburton, Jane Wood, Sam Larner

To Nowhere poster

Scientific articles in their abundance advocate the benefits of boredom; extoling the necessity of tedium to inspire us beyond the very doldrums we find ourselves in daily. Facing a blank wall? Use it as a canvas. Surrounded by silence? Fill it with song. Sounds so easy, yet when boredom bites it usually eats all motivation, too, resulting in further apathy: a Catch ZZ. We all get stuck in a rut, but perhaps it is a malaise which affects teenagers most poignantly (it's no coincidence that the word "boredom" is a motif of punk, the most impotent and adolescent of all genres). I suppose the problem with being a teen is that often you don't yet know what you like and have no real idea what interests or impels you. In this threshold state, where you're beholden to peer expectation and attempting to fit in with perceived societal standards, and with a world as vast as an ocean open wide before you, it can take a lifetime to curate your own interests, and to find out who you are.

To Nowhere review

Case in point are Finn (Josefine Glæsel) and Tulip (Lilit Lesser), the late-teen protagonists of Sian Astor-Lewis' impressive micro-budget debut To Nowhere, whose juvenile ennui leads them on a self-destructive day of drink, dark sex and just generally being a couple of dicks. The tone is set early when Finn wakes up on Tulip's floor among the night-before detritus of an empty bottle of wine. After brushing her teeth, she takes a different toothbrush from the sink and proceeds to piss on it before carefully replacing it in the tumbler. Soon, the two will steal alcohol from Tulip's mentally disabled grandmother and laugh at Tulip's uncle Stanley (Orlando Seale), owner of the toothbrush, for simply taking part in a dance class. Charming stuff.

To Nowhere review

As the film develops, we discover that Tulip's mum has recently died, while Finn's mother used to hit her. Perhaps attack is the best form of self-defence, then, if you're lost and lonely and feel unloved. And so, as we follow the two wandering "around a lonely corner of London" we witness them abuse general members of the public, spit from a bridge and drink the dredges from stranger's deserted pints in similarly abandoned basement pubs (the film did remind me of the frustrating vertigo of being in London as a kid: the absolute excitement and potential of -finally!- being in the city, but with absolutely no idea what to do while I was there).

The action is paralleled by the dual narrative of hapless Stanley, who buys fetish masks from a sex shop ("3 poppers for £18") and is accused of being a nonce because he smiles at a kid in a record store. It's a curious counterpoint: is the film positioning us to see Stanley, who seems somewhere off-centre on the spectrum, as a figure of fun and a weird adult foil to Tulip and Finn's righteous youth energy? Notwithstanding, he's certainly the closest the film comes to a depiction of kindness and decency, and is furthermore a doomy consolidation of To Nowhere's presentation of urban alienation. At least Tulip and Finn have each other.

To Nowhere review

Does the film darkly imply that Stanley's affections for Tulip transgress the familial? There is an element of the sordid throughout To Nowhere. The visual indicator of the gimp masks corresponds with the girl's sado-masochistic friendship and a motif of sexuality builds via the corporeality of Finn's period blood and Tulip watching some back-alley street shaggers at night. The theme culminates in the two, drunk on corner shop plonk, squatting in Stanley's room when he's not there, discovering the masks and subsequently role playing an intense sexual fantasy, wherein identity is blurred, and secret urges made plain. "Who are you?," Finn demands, rather than questions. Within the intimidating expanse of the city, with its cruel and cold corners, it is only in each other and their shared intimacy that these two girls are able to self-actualise.

To Nowhere is in UK cinemas from June 30th.

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