Carol Morley’s follow-up to her acclaimed, haunting doc Dreams of a Life sees her branch out into fictional territory with no less intoxicating results.
1969 and at a strict rural Girls’ School somewhere deep in the British countryside young Lydia (Maisie Williams) is happy wiling away the days with rebellious best friend Abbie (Florence Pugh). But when tragedy strikes there soon begins an unusual fainting epidemic which both students and staff succumb to. Can someone solve the mystery before others die too?
With its atmospheric setting and ambiguous characters there’s plenty to enjoy in Morley’s coming-of-age tale not least some fabulous chemistry between the leads Williams and Pugh.
And while the first half manages to tease and intrigue with its set up it’s a shame the second half doesn’t quite live up to that promise, offering a more standard resolution than Morley’s imaginative tale deserves.
So while this is clearly William’s Indie calling card (she does hail from Game of Thrones after all), there’s also solid support from the ever-reliable Maxine Peake, the domineering Greta Scacchi and an interesting turn from Joe Cole as Lydia’s occult-loving brother Kenneth, leading to a climax that’s as shocking as it is in keeping with the film’s tense sexual vibe.
A fine sophomore effort then and one that proves Morley is as adept at handling fiction as much as she is fact.