tue 28/01/2020

Dirty God review - an important piece of filmmaking | reviews, news & interviews

Dirty God review - an important piece of filmmaking

Dirty God review - an important piece of filmmaking

British indie follows the emotional recovery of an acid attack victim

Vicky Knight as Jade, with her daughter

With the continued prevalence of acid attacks in the UK, it was only a matter of time before they became the subject of a film. Thank goodness, then, it's handled with such unflinching care as it is in Dirty God. Director and writer Sacha Polak makes her English-language debut in this deliberate and well-paced drama.

Jade (Vicky Knight) is trying to settle back into life after being attacked by her ex-partner. Much of her face and torso have been scarred, but she’s ready to move on. Sadly, the public is not as ready as she is; strangers call her names, eyes constantly stare, and even her own daughter is terrified of her. She’s never allowed to forget what’s happened to her.

The world that Polak creates is a dark one, but it never feels excessive. Despite her attack, Jade is still a young woman with desires and drives. She goes out clubbing with her friend and has sexual desires, but her self-confidence limits her to cyber-sex in the dark. This is no pity porn, it's human life, warts (and scars) and all.

'Dirty God' never sensationalises its subject 

Lead Vicky Knight is a real star. She’s compelling as Jade, flawed but inherently relatable. Knight is a burns survivor herself, and some of the revealing scenes must have been really difficult to shoot, but feel totally new in representation. This is her first film, but she inhabits the role so naturally that you’d never know.

It helps, too, that Polak is a filmmaker with flair. The camera studies Jade’s scarring like artwork, extraordinary structures of skin that pattern her chest and neck. The overall feel is kitchen-sink realism, but coloured with a distinct visual style – occasions of dramatic lighting and surreal dream sequences. These don’t distract from the story, but draw you into Jade’s fractured mind.

The development of the story is subtle – she obsesses over plastic surgery, but there’s no simple solution to her problems. Instead, it’s her relationships that show the real growth. Dirty God never sensationalises its subject and really gets under the skin – really worth catching.


The overall feel is kitchen-sink realism, but coloured with a distinct visual style


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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