Micky (Martin Herdman) is a working class, middle aged man who gets laid off from his part-time job. To make matters worse he struggles to keep his son, Jason (Josh Herdman) from relapsing into a life of drug abuse and looks after his father, Sam (Ian Hogg) when he can no longer meet the payments to his nursing home. As life gets harder and the world grows colder, Mickey makes some increasingly tough moral decisions to survive, leading him to question his values.
Shot on a micro-budget in South-East London, Mark Gillis’ directorial debut reflects the daily hardships of working life in the 21st Century. A decade on from the financial crisis, Sink depicts the desperate times suffered by the working class, from the zero hour contracts to the antiquated ineffectiveness of the U.K. benefits system(s). While these are universal concerns within the western world, Gillis creates an intrinsically British viewpoint that is bolstered by solid performances throughout.
Martin Herdman imbues Micky with a tangibility that can only come from a multifaceted realisation of a character. Micky is an everyman caught in an ever-spiralling predicament in which he must seize a semblance of control. Caring for a father ailed by dementia and a son who struggles with addiction, Sink hints at generational hardships, and how every son sired toils with their bespoke demons. To its credit, the dramatic here never ventures into misery-porn. Micky’s pressures are often eased by a support network including an elderly neighbour, Jean (Marlene Sidway), a would-be lover, Lorraine (Tracey Wilkinson) and an understanding case-worker (Joanna Monro).
While the burgeoning relationship between Mickey and Lorraine unfurls sweetly and cinematically, there are other elements that don’t quite work as well. Micky’s relationship with his son is relegated to a couple of scenes that aren’t fleshed out. There are a couple of oddly melodramatic beats that would have been more at home in a soap opera. While I can understand their inclusion from a writer’s perspective, the character interactions and central theme are enough to carry the weight of the narrative without the inclusion of such adornments.
I appreciated my time with Sink. This isn’t a geezer’y breeze into London’s underworld, nor an anchored-to-reality drudge through life’s hardships. There’s an air of humour within the adversity that endears you to the characters. Martin Herdman is pretty great and I was left wanting to see more from his life and those he cares for.
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