mon 04/03/2024

The End We Start From review - watery apocalyptic drama with star turn | reviews, news & interviews

The End We Start From review - watery apocalyptic drama with star turn

The End We Start From review - watery apocalyptic drama with star turn

Low-budget British feature film gives Comer a chance to shine amid the rising water

Katherine Waterston and Jodie Comer searching for sanctuary for their babies

The End We Start From couldn’t be more timely, opening in cinemas after weeks of heavy rain and flooding dominated UK news. But the film’s release has also coincided with the ITV police drama After the Flood and it’s too tempting to compare the two.

Both feature pregnant women dealing with the traumas of delivery for the first time; the waters break both in macro and microcosm.  

After the Flood has too much plot – it’s one of those crime dramas in a small Yorkshire town where everyone, from the pregnant police officer (Sophie Rundle) to her activist mum (Lorraine Ashbourne) and random good Samaritan (Jonas Armstrong) turn out to be involved in the same murder mystery – a body found in a flooded garage. If the TV drama is too jam-packed with coincidences and revelations to be credible The End We Start From has too little plot, relying on atmospherics and a star performer. We first encounter a heavily pregnant Jodie Comer in the bath; outside the heavens have opened and London's flood defences have failed. Set some time in a vague near future, The End We Start From is a dystopian drama that makes up for a low budget with carefully framed, artistic camerawork and atmospheric sound design.  

Based on Megan Hunter’s novel, Comer’s character is helpfully named Woman and is accompanied (initially) by her partner (Joel Fry) as they flee their flooded home for his parents’ house in the woods. Anarchy and violence have broken out as the authorities become increasingly incompetent and dictatorial. Woman meets another another new Mother (Katherine Waterston) in a shelter and they team up to join an alternative community on an island off the coast. It’s a shame that Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men (2006) shared so many of the same apocalyptic themes and UK locations but was made with greater tension (and a bigger budget). It feels as if director Mahalia Belo is working in Cuarón’s long shadow with this her first feature film.   

Jodie Comer is superb dealing with a growing baby while looking for sanctuary. It’s her best on-screen performance since the powerful Help in 2021. She’s never less than mesmerising to watch and wholly credible both when she’s dealing with existential threats or expressing tenderness for her child. But there’s a couple of cameos by Gina McKee and Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured above) – who was also the executive producer – which jar and point up the film’s thin plotting. The slow pace and narrative ellipses leave time for viewers to idly wonder where Woman is sourcing food (and nappies and fresh clothes for her growing baby), but it also gives us plenty of opportunities to admire Comer’s skills as an actor and look forward to her next role. 

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