The Incident

***

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

The Incident
"It’s the quiet unease and invasive nature of Lily’s probing into the house that are the real highlights here."

There’s a strange disquieting undercurrent that runs through this strangely balletic film. The Incident - title fitting in its ambiguity - frequently feels like it is about to tip over into a full blown thriller or an accidental horror film, thanks in part to some exceptional cinematography by Pau Castejon. The story is bare bones: Joe (Tom Hughes), a wealthy architect, sleeps with a young prostitute named Lily (Tasha Connor) on his way to see his wife, Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas). This couples up with a sequence of coincidences that lead Lily to invade the home of Annabel, and see the life of the upper-middle class up close.

Annabel - whose guilt and middle class trappings are delivered excellently by Gedmintas - is also pregnant, and her thoughts keep wandering back to Lily, whom she first sees around her local town as a vulnerable youth. The direction keeps the pace up, as the two spiral around each other in a languid dance that is only broken by harsh, deliberate editing. This odd dance of inhabited space and the transgressions that both characters make into their opposing spaces is crucial to the tension that the film conjures.

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The threat of this tipping over into something more visceral keeps the first half ticking, but as the film transitions to an examination of Annabel’s fears and guilt, it loses a little something. She’s incredibly wealthy, with an astonishing house, and lives in a state of relative idyll, so the guilt that wracks her doesn't really translate into a reason to feel empathy for her. Having this exceptionally privileged character exposed to the harsh realities of the world doesn’t garner any sympathy, nor does it add urgency or reason for the events that unfold. It’s clear that the contrast has been chosen for effect, but to make it so extreme robs this of some of what makes it feel unique.

It’s the quiet unease and invasive nature of Lily’s probing into the house that are the real highlights here. Everything is scored by Tim Hecker, who provides some on point and assonant music. The uncomfortable strings that drone plaintively lend proceedings a feeling of claustrophobia and dread that sets this film apart from other dramas. Jane Linfoot plays artfully with the expectations of the audience, and perhaps if it had shied away from the juxtaposition of class backgrounds and instead focused wholly on the idea of trespassing and invasion, the end product would have been a more focused and raw piece.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2015
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Psychological drama about a couple whose lives are disrupted by a troubled teenage girl.
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