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  • Writer's pictureJames McCleary

God's Creatures // Film Review

God’s Creatures is a film about process and cycles in a small fishing village ill-equipped to handle much else. Utilising a curious dichotomy, the film’s opening half is a soft montage of netting and slicing fish, followed by drinking and dancing at the pub. Rinse and repeat. It is anchored largely by working woman Aileen (Emily Mortimer) and her returning adult son Brian (Paul Mescal).

The film shifts on its axis around its midpoint, when a tragedy goes both unseen and unspoken. It concerns Mescal’s character Brian, and to say more would be to spoil a turn that, over the course of its first forty five minutes, just about every audience member will realise is inevitable.

The back-half of God’s Creatures largely avoids discussions of the horror at its centre, instead repeating the motions of work and process, with motifs of fungus in the fish and gender divides in the pub used to more quietly demonstrate how, in villages like this, cycles continue regardless of the people within them. Directors Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer wield an extraordinary sense of patience here, allowing the unspoken tension to rise and rise over long shots of characters trudging through deep water against the current, watching and waiting to see who might shout first.

In lesser hands, God's Creatures might not work simply because its conflict is so tidy. It is the relationship of a well-intending mother blind to her son's dark side, and the entire film is centred around the wait for one inevitable conversation. It works due to a blend of visual inspiration and some truly nasty dialogue which piles dirt on top of dirt. There is a rot buried at the centre of God’s Creatures, and the boiling question with which we are left simmering is whether it will, or even can, be cut out.


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