Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Faye and Chloe are having a good night - indeed, the first word of the film is "Goldschlager!". The two don't see each other very often, and they are trying to catch up - indeed, they're trying to fit a year's nights out into one encounter. Apparently there's a party out there somewhere, hosted by Lewis. When they get there, things don't go quite as well as might be hoped.

Sadly, that extends to the film itself. As Faye, Vicky McClure manages to mix a desire to regain a misspent youth with sudden concern. The weight of the bad trip rests largely with her, and she's more than capable of bearing it - she was Lol in This Is England, carrying here the same mixture of maternal instinct and irresponsibility. At the party it isn't Lewis that they find but Dogger, and what follows is dependent on the fact that Faye has become unreliable. It's dark, drink and drugs have been consumed, and Glenn Doherty is somewhat edgy in appearance - not as much as under his Ape makeup in Defoe, but still concerning. He's been in a few things, usually minor roles, including the recent Danny Dyer diversion Dead Man Running. He's intimidating enough for what happens.

Their interaction is all about interpretation. It might go one way, or another. As it is, Faye runs, and Chloe doesn't. Nathalie Press (Alice in Red Road) is bubbly and optimistic, and enticing and overenthusiastic, and then concerned.

Loren Slater's direction is confident, a woodland chase is well shot save that a decision at a junction seems to have been taken, wholesale, from a textbook. Matt Palmer is credited as a co-writer with Slater, and also the sound. It's certainly crisp, integrating a variety of sources for 'club classics' in what feels like an organic way - club sound systems, car stereos, woodland parties all seem right for the locale.

It may be that they're alluding to things seeming "darkest before the dawn", or that, as an adult, youthful adventures seem tantamount to invitations to disaster. There's certainly potential, and talent, but nothing comes of it; ultimately Just Before Dawn never quite lights up.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2010
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Two women try to rediscover their youth an an isolated countryside party.
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Director: Loren Slater

Writer: Loren Slater, Matt Palmer

Starring: Natalie Press, Vicky McClure, Glenn Doherty

Year: 2010

Country: UK


EIFF 2010
Glasgow 2011

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