Blackout must be one of the most uncomfortable films I’ve seen in a while. I do mean that in the kindest way I can. It’s a simple story, yet a surprisingly hard one to swallow. It deals with mental illness – more specifically those who life with mental illness within their family. How those who do have to care for and watch those who they love become nearly unrecognisable before them. We follow Grace, as she lives with her mother ho suffers from a severe case of paranoia. She believes that there is a huge conspiracy, where she is to help MI5 reveal the enemy spies – and threatening to do anything to make sure her mission is a success. When things get life threatening, how will Grace be able to coup?
Blackout is a hopeless film. There is no great moment of togetherness and understanding. No happy moment lasts long. It’s mostly upsetting and gritty. It’s all very well presented and effectively told. Even towards the bitter end, even though we get a nice moment of levity and know that things should get better soon, the immediate moment is very downbeat. But, to it’s credit, it’s not too hard to watch.
Blackout was directed by Serena Chloe Gardner, and she does hold talent behind the camera. The film is well directed, with a good grasp on how the film looked and sounded. It all feels very claustrophobic, uncomfortable and – well paranoid. It’s not often we get long shots at great distances here. We’re always only feet away from them and everything that is said is very loud and very clear. We appreciate the slower and quieter moments because they feel like a break – a breath of fresh air. Outside of them it feels like we’re being shouted at. It’s as uncomfortable as hearing an argument between two people in the same shop as you. It’s also just as morbidly fascinating.
I have to give credit to these actresses. They both perfectly capture the stress and tragedy of the situation they’re in perfectly. I particularly liked the actress playing Grace, Evelyn Lockley. She has a talent for having the audience sympathise with her, even though she does do something that, even though we know it for the better, feels like a betrayal for her mother. She feels like a woman who is constantly at the end of her rope – understandable considering that the film opens with a death threat. Her mother’s actress, Kate Lock, is equally talented. At first we feel threatened by her, but we soon seen how deep she is in her own fantasy, we understand how she got there and we quickly feel pity for her. I’m convinced that this is a woman who is suffering from paranoia and that it has made her crazy to us, but that she plays her role with the belief that what is not happening is real, makes me feel sorry for her. We will her to get better.
Blackout is possibly a little too grim to be seen as enjoyable for many. Its craft is most certainly worthy of praise, as are the performances. It’s a little too hard going for re-watching though. There will always be a strong case for a film you liked at the time, or even watching only once. I just doubt that it will stick with me, because I find it a little too hard going to get into it personally. It’s one I do recommend though, especially to those looking for inspiration in the short, independent film market. If you feel that you can take it, then I’d say it’s worth your time.
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