motw logo 1-35Clio Barnard’s Dark River is a harrowing drama about the long-lasting impact of abuse. Ruth Wilson stars as Alice, a Yorkshire-raised woman who’s working as an itinerant sheep herder/shearer when she hears that her father (Sean Bean) has died. She goes home for the first time in many years to claim her right to the family farm, only to clash with her brother, Joe (Mark Stanley), who stayed on the farm with their father and thinks he has more right to the land than she does. Continue reading…

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DARK RIVER — Review by Cate Marquis

Clio Barnard gives us a glimpse into the hard life of sheep farmers in Yorkshire through the eyes of a woman who returns home to the sheep ranch where she grew up after a fifteen year absence. Alice (Ruth Wilson) works as a sheep shearer for hire, having left home young and never returned. When she learns of her father’s death, her strange reaction to the news immediately raises the question of abuse in our minds, a suspicion quickly confirmed by flashbacks of a young Alice (Esme Creed-Miles) experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of her father (Sean Bean). Continue reading…

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DARK RIVER: A Sense of Place in British Cinema — Essay by Nikki Baughan

As the opening credits of Clio Barnard’s Dark River play over a black screen, we hear the landscape before we see it. An evocative chorus of wind, sea and birdsong provides an immediate sense of place, before we are suddenly thrust – in extreme close-up – next to a sheep being shorn by protagonist Alice (Ruth Wilson). It’s a visceral introduction not just to the film’s central character but to her intimate relationship with her surroundings, which will prove so central to her story. It’s also an early nod from Barnard that her world of muck and sweat will be far removed from the traditional big-screen image of Britain. Dark River is the latest in a run of recent British films in which the story is closely tied to the physical environment, creating an unusually intense sense of place. Continue reading…
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dark River is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 6, 2018.

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