The Movie Waffler New Release Review - TRANSLATIONS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - TRANSLATIONS

Translations review
An agoraphobic young woman is visited by a friend of her late brother.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Keith Wilhelm Kopp

Starring: Alan Emrys, Rob Peacock, Cameron Okai, Kate Morgan-Jones, Cari Barley

Translations poster

Remember lockdown? Queuing for the supermarkets, pub quizzes over zoom, and, for those of us who live alone, the relentlessly crushing and seemingly eternal desolation of being completely alone day in and day out? Under normal circumstances, living on one's own is a rare privilege. Had enough of the absolute effort of being with around people? Slope on back home. You can read all night, not fret over making the same tired small talk and basically stretch the fuck out. Mmmm bliss. Not so utopian when you don't have the choice, though. The urgent joy of spending the night with someone, the cosy pleasure of experiencing the next morning together, the opportunity to cook for, spoil, luxuriate in the company of someone special? It felt like starvation without it. And then the insult to insularity of not being able to go anywhere, either, not even the library (unlike the *checks notes* actual Prime Minster of the country, most of us abided by the rules...). Brings you right down.

Translations review

It's a familiar situation which is further intensified for the lead character of Translations, director Keith Wilhelm Kopp and writer Laurence Guy's impressive indie. Following the untimely death of her brother, Stef (Kate Morgan-Jones) suffers from depression, is acutely agoraphobic, and hasn't left her apartment for years. The thing about depression, see, is that after a while people tend to leave you to it. Like most illnesses, it is an embarrassing reminder to others of human frailty, of a potential weakness they'd rather not confront. And so, they just let you get on with it. Except, one day, there is a knock on the door and Stef's solitude is broken by Evan (Alan Emrys), a friend of her brother's who has just come back from travelling the world. The blunt irony of Evan's wanderlust contradicting Stef's seclusion demarcates how each's life experiences differ, but the two are yet united in a shared and delayed grief. Seeing him as a link to her lost kinsman, Stef allows Evan to stay.

Translations review

Now, that's a commitment! Of course, romance isn't initially on the cards, but it is certainly in the air and Translations charts the blossoming of this nascent connection. What is impressive about Kopp and Guy's chamber piece is how gentle it feels, how subtle and convincingly the unfolding of the relationship is presented. The push/pull dance of attraction is exciting and relatable, and you will feel for Stef, for whom this contact means so much more than just a hook up or a fling or even a healthy ongoing union... And perhaps, for Stef here but also IRL, that's the problem: the way we hope against hope that someone will rescue us from ourselves, and hold on to this idea that being with someone will make everything else bearable, even ourselves. Within the tight intimacy of the milieu, both performances are dexterously calibrated, with Morgan-Jones' lurching from gentle resignation to explosive torment an especially affective invocation of mental anguish.

Translations review

Will Stef find her own self resolve? In the elegant monochrome mise-en-scene, she discovers individual purpose in translating Welsh to English, and also in her own writing of introspective poetry, which soars above the restrictions of her condition. Just as in Stef's poetry and her elucidation of language, meaning and the communication of profound feeling is likewise created by Translations, a deeply human experience.

Translations is touring cinemas now and heading for streaming soon. Details are here.

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