Cordelia: Review. By Beth Widdicombe.
Cordelia is a psychological drama from director Adrian Shergold, co-written with, and starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes as a sensitive actress living with her identical twin sister in a basement flat in London, still in recovery from a past trauma which is revealed as the plot unwinds. The film is emotionally tense, psychologically disturbing and keeps the audience’s attention via ‘tension/ release’.
The story has strong parallels to Polanski’s film ‘Repulsion’ – a similar narrative of lonely young woman, living with her sister and slowly losing her mind and grip on reality.
Prior to her sister Caroline (also played, not so convincingly by Campbell-Hughes) and her boyfriend (Joel Fry) leaving for the weekend, there are inserts of disturbing dream sequences which builds uncertainty and an element of question to what will unfold.
The basement flat is an effectively creepy setting of peeling wallpaper, dark rooms and mice filled corridors. However, it does come with a highly desirable built in Classical music system – via upstairs Celloist and Concert Hall musician neighbour, played by the handsome ‘Beast’ actor Johnny Flynn. Without generalising (I am), always beware of handsome, romantic professional musicians. As a fan of 70’s horror I immediately pricked up my attention when he cited ‘Valerie’ as the name of his instrument. Nothing good comes from that protagonist’s name…as its Halloween look up Valerie and horror movies and you’ll be in for a treat…anyway I digress.
As their relationship develops, so does the tension. There are some great shots in the underground, which would have even the most hardened of thriller fans gasping for breath.
Much of this film to me, is taken up with is it a dream, is it real, is this a mental breakdown? And less so on clever dialogue or story. Highlights come with cameos from Michael Gambon as a helpful eccentric neighbour and Alun Armstrong as a fellow actor in the play.
Watchable, but leaves me left unsatisfied rather than wanting more. For that I will go back for a revisit of ‘Repulsion’.
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