Blood Cells


Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Blood Cells
"Wells delivers a great performance."

There’s a fine line between interesting and boring. Films that attempt to abstract stories can either be great tonal successes or threadbare affairs with little impact. It must be hard to judge when the removal of conventional narrative beats has gone too far. Jonathan Glazer spent 10 years carefully removing elements from Under The Skin until he felt that it functioned as a film that hinted at ideas with enough confidence to not fall back on exposition. It ended up being something that danced around its origin material in a frustrating yet enthralling way. From the opening few minutes, Blood Cells feels of a similar ilk, with its similarly assonant music and scenes of rural life gone awry, but as things progress the comparisons fall away.

Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore’s film charts the journey of Adam (Barry Wells) as he is coerced back to civilisation by the impending birth of his brother’s first child. There is a hazy, dream like feels to his trek as Adam visits locations of significance to his past: past jobs, old girlfriends, distant relatives, flashbacks to a fatal accident and intrusive music reinforce the subconscious feel.

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Wells delivers a great performance, treading the line between between remorse and cowardice with nuance. Unfortunately the nature of the film dictates that he spends little time in the company of others, which is a shame considering the depth he brings to a character whose convictions and feelings are only hinted at.

As a film that focuses on tone, however, it does feel largely inconsequential. The aforementioned flashback is never truly resolved, and Adam’s life is only hinted at rather than fleshed out. This could be considered bold, but it will entirely depend on your tolerance for vaguery. There are a few scenes that play out uneasily, and a contrast between Adam’s protective attitude towards a teenage girl and his willingness to debauch himself with a former lover to earn a quick buck hint at the kernel of a more incisive film.

As it stands, the arthouse trappings cannot carry what ultimately ends up being a film with little substance. A more direct approach to certain elements backed up by this admittedly stunningly directed film could have lent more weight to elements. When Adam does run into people and conflict arises, the film sings. Sadly, we’re left with vast yawns of silence and instrumentation which do little to fill the time in between.

Reviewed on: 28 Jun 2015
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A farmer's son is faced with a decison about whether to return to the home he has exiled himself from.
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Director: Joseph Bull, Luke Seomore

Writer: Joseph Bull, Luke Seomore, Ben Young

Starring: Jimmy Akingbola, Mohammed Ali, Olivia Bernstone, Silas Carson, Daniel Ezra, Francis Magee, Keith McErlean, Gino Picciano, Chloe Pirrie, Django Chan Reeves, Semih Sezen, Hayley Squires, Marcio Teixeira, Barry Ward

Year: 2014

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Italy


EIFF 2015

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