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

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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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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.