Today: February 29, 2024

Wreckers

The opening sequence of Wreckers offers an idyllic snapshot of a young family, soaked in bright sunlight as they cradle their small baby and exchange whispered words.

– By Sam Haysom

The opening sequence of Wreckers offers an idyllic snapshot of a young family, soaked in
bright sunlight as they cradle their small baby and exchange whispered words.
Soft music plays in the background, and the scene
is instilled with an almost dreamlike quality. This glimpse of domestic
perfection, however, is only brief. The film quickly undercuts it and breaks it
down, exchanging this idealistic vision of family life for a harsh and
unrelenting realism.

D.R. Hood’s debut feature centres on Dawn (Claire
Foy
) and David (Benedict Cumberbatch),
a newly married couple who have returned to make a life for themselves in the
village that David grew up in. However, their plans are quickly complicated by
the arrival of David’s immature and troubled younger brother Nick (Shaun Evans), whose return from serving
in the Army acts as a catalyst for the problems in their relationship.

The film does an excellent
job of immediately hinting at the complex past that the two brothers share,
with their reunion being shadowed by a sense of underlying tension. Dawn
watches as they clasp each other tightly, like drowning men clinging to a raft;
this image not only foreshadows their close and complicated relationship, but
also forms the basis of a recurring dream that haunts Dawn throughout the film.
Like the blurred figures Dawn sees in her sleep, both Nick and her husband are
partially hidden from her, held at a distance by the troubled history they
share.

In terms of both its themes
and its style, Wreckers echoes
the work of Andrea Arnold. While the
character-driven plot and portrayal of domestic unhappiness could be linked to Fishtank,
the film exchanges an inner-city setting for a rural backdrop, and the close
texture of certain shots give it a strong natural aesthetic that is reminiscent
of Wuthering Heights. Indeed, Hood frequently uses shots of
nature and decay; the old farmhouse which the brothers grew up in is a
broken-down husk of a building, a symbol of their hidden past that stays
rotting in the present. This idea of a barely concealed darkness that runs
close to the surface features strongly in the film, and is reflected in the
not-so-picturesque village community that Nick eagerly unveils to Dawn.

Ultimately, though, the
drama that unfolds around the three central characters is what lies at the
heart of Wreckers. The leading
roles are all played brilliantly, and the character development is both
intriguing and moving. The dialogue could perhaps have been more subtle in
places – a worried Dawn asking David, “I don’t really know you, do I?” feels
unnecessary, for instance – but for the most part it complements the film’s
realism. Hood’s direction, meanwhile, does an excellent job of emphasising the
often claustrophobic atmosphere – close-ups are used to good effect, building
on the proximity of the characters to heighten a tangible sense of jealousy and
unease.

It may not be perfect, but
for a debut feature Wreckers is
impressively accomplished. Hood will certainly be one to watch in the coming
years.

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