Don't Go


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Don't Go
"David Gleeson is skilled when it comes to building up atmosphere but doesn't lay it on too thick; he knows that what will keep people watching here is the element of mystery."

After the funeral, Hazel (Melissa George) and her American husband Ben (Stephen Dorff) move out to the old hotel on the Irish coast. They couldn't have stayed where they were, surrounded by memories of their little girl. This place has been neglected for some time and the area is not exactly swarming with tourists, but Hazel thinks they can make a go of it. She wants to move on with life. Ben, however, keeps finding himself drawn back towards the past as if by some hidden current. He keeps remembering a day spent on the beach with Molly (Grace Farrell) some time before her death. Gradually he becomes convinced that if he can only solve the puzzle presented by his dreams, he can bring her back.

The two of them, responding to grief in very different ways, struggle to hold onto their relationship, but we get the sense that they've been through rough patches before. The arrival at the hotel of a troubled woman (Aoibhinn McGinnity) with whom Ben shares a secret past complicates things further, and her youth rings alarm bells because Ben is a teacher. Has he been a little too close to one of his students? The aggressive way he interacts with her, treating her evident depression as if it were some kind of slight against him, shows a different side to an otherwise affable man. He's laden with guilt about his daughter's death and yet as he tries to figure out how to hold onto her in his dreams, he's also gradually figuring out how his own actions have hurt the women around him, subconsciously calculating what it would take to set things right.

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If all this sounds like rather heavy going, it's worth noting that it's buoyed up by strong performances and some well placed comedic scenes with Simon Delaney as a somewhat unorthodox priest. David Gleeson is skilled when it comes to building up atmosphere but doesn't lay it on too thick; he knows that what will keep people watching here is the element of mystery, the sense that there's more going on than just a bereaved man's internal crisis. George is impressive in the less showy secondary role, especially given that she had only a few days on set. it's interesting to see a female character taking a pragmatic approach to losing a child and trying to persuade a man to be more rational when he starts talking about the supernatural, something that we've seen again and again the other way around.

Making good use of the coastal light, the film perfectly captures the beauty of the local scenery. A simple score which picks up pace during the final scenes is a good fit for the slowly unfolding story. If there's one disappointment it's that the film's conclusion implies heroism in a choice that might otherwise be seen as a means of ducking responsibility, or certainly of avoiding confrontation, but it is nicely delivered and most viewers are like to find it emotionally satisfying. The narrative is well crafted and the result is a poignant little film that will linger in the memory. Perhaps you'll even recall it in your dreams.

Reviewed on: 25 Oct 2018
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Don't Go packshot
Devastated by his daughter's death in a terrible accident, Ben becomes convinced that he can bring her back through a recurring dream. But is it just a dream? Or is Ben losing his mind?

Director: David Gleeson

Writer: Ronan Blaney, David Gleeson

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Melissa George, Simon Delaney, Aoibhinn McGinnity, Grace Farrell

Year: 2018

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Ireland


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