Tear Me Apart


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Tear Me Apart
"There's enormous potential here, with solid performances from the young actors, especially newcomer Alexander."

The brothers live on the beach. Younger Brother (Alfie Stewart) can't remember a time before this. They are waiting for their father. Older Brother (Frazer Alexander) takes care of him, advises him on Father's rules. Tells him not to eat human flesh. Tells him, sometimes, stories of the old days, of Mother and Father, claims he can remember the time before it happened.

The arrival of a teenage girl (Jennie Eggleton) who has come looking for her own father shatters their world, but not because of any cliché love triangle. Rather, because they had both thought there were no women left.

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The women sought shelter in havens, recounts the girl, who says her name is Molly. What happened to them? "Men found them." There are distinct echoes here of Ally 'Raccoona' Sheldon's The Screwfly Solution, but it all happened so long ago that our young protagonists can't really remember. Fascinated by Molly, by the strangeness she represents, the brothers try to keep her, whilst she urges them to accompany her in search of a mysterious town where there may be some form of civilisation. Meanwhile, assorted strangers prowl the coast, some predators, some prey. With the older one clinging to the past and his father's dreams, the younger one easing instinctively into an alien future, they are already struggling to hold onto the bond on which everything depends. Molly's clear vision, nave though it may be, introduces overwhelming possibility.

Alex Lightman's bold debut feature presents a series of interesting thought experiments. A gang of older men live out the clichés of post-apocalyptic brutality, but the brothers, young as they are, have little about them that belongs to the old culture. They have no language in which to express their feelings for Molly and no cultivated aggression when she fails to cooperate; she is simply another person, assumed to be an equal, despite the hinted-at horrors of the past. Similarly, Younger Brother's cannibalism is simply practical, not grotesque; he eats because he is hungry; a rule does not carry the same weight as a cultural taboo.

There's enormous potential here, with solid performances from the young actors, especially newcomer Alexander. Tom Kerevan's inexperience as a writer shows, however. Too anxious about filling up space, he gives us long stretches of unnecessary or repeated dialogue which undermine the story's natural tension. Although the performances need time to build, all and all the film would be better with 15 minutes chopped out of it. Lightman, in turn, needs to give his actors more space instead of overemphasising emotional points.

Despite these flaws, this is an interesting film, beautifully framed and wisely eschewing visceral horror in favour of a more organic creepiness. It's a great example of how much can be achieved with just a handful of actors and a small patch of land, and it should encourage other filmmakers to give freer rein to their imaginations.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2016
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The lives of two brothers on a isolated beach are turned upside down by the arrival of a girl in this post-apocalyptic cannibal romance

Director: Alex Lightman

Writer: Tom Kerevan

Starring: Alfie Stewart, Frazer Alexander, Jennie Eggleton

Year: 2015

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: UK


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