d./w./p. Matt Cruse; cast: Karen French, Julian Shaw, Sylvia Seymour, Lucy Charles, Tony Stansfield, Helen Barford
Cruse’s debut feature is the cinematic equivalent of the Sahara Desert: impressive, even magnificent, but also bleak, featureless and thoroughly impenetrable. French gives an astounding performance as Cora, a woman who goes about her daily life even as her mind falls apart. Think of Cronenberg-ian body horror, but in a mental health sense. She goes to her office job, cleans the house, phones her brother, visits her mother and occasionally picks up one-night stands, one of whom becomes a regular lover though she knows nothing about him. Right at the start we get a glimpse of the aftermath of something violent, then spend the next 94 minutes piecing together what might have happened. Which is difficult because clearly some of this is in Cora’s mind (and other things may possibly be shown in non-chronological order). Despite its seemingly pedestrian narrative, there is undeniable tension throughout, helped by French’s taciturn performance and Lewis Clark’s astute sound design. Some people will love this, others will hate it, but almost no-one will fully understand it. Available to view on demand via the website.