This is the second feature film from writer/director Craig Roberts, who is better known for playing the lead role in Submarine. It reunites him with Submarine and The Double co-star Sally Hawkins, who plays Jane, who has paranoid schizophrenia, in a script that doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the condition very well.
It’s also one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time. The plot is all over the place, but it still manages to be quite boring. It tries to be weird and quirky, which is fine, but with the exception of some parts of her role in The Shape of Water, Hawkins is an actress whose every move seems forced. The film doesn’t quite know what its trying to say, There’s a romance between Jane and Mike (David Thewlis), who also has some kind of problem but without a formal diagnosis. He has a band that sounds a bit like The Fall, but it’s just him.
On a technical level, perhaps Hawkins delivers a good performance, and Billie Piper is actually quite good in it as her sister. But it’s a bit offensive, since it tries to present schizophrenia as sort of an odd personality trait when actually it’s pretty hard to live with, using it as a plot device in a way that I find somewhat offensive. I assume Hawkins decided to do it because it was mentally and physically demanding as an actress, more of a meaty role than some things she has been offered since The Shape of Water, and gave her a chance to work with friends. Hawkins has a really kind of creepy smile, and I would love to see her in a horror movie sometime.
It’s an example of everything that’s wrong with British cinema at the moment, and it very quickly reaches that point where quirkiness becomes irksome. It’s about as inventive of a film as the industry here is willing to finance currently—there is a little surrealism throughout—but it’s basically unsatisfying in any way.
The disc includes a nine-minute interview with Hawkins and a 15-minute making-of.