Saturday, November 14, 2020

Make Up - Movie Review

The Movie: Make Up

The Director: Claire Oakley

The Cast: Molly Windsor, Joseph Quinn, and Stefanie Martini 

The Story: On a remote holiday park in Cornwall, a young woman is drawn into a mysterious obsession when she suspects her boyfriend has cheated on her.

The Review:
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this film although it has been receiving a fair amount of critical acclaim so I said hey, why not. Let' give it a shot. This is the debut narrative feature for director Claire Oakley and she shows a confidence in her story telling that would make someone think she has been at this for a while. The story is sort of a coming of age tale and it's also a deep dive into psychological thriller territory as her young protagonist goes through some seriously messed up stuff, most of which (I think) is happening inside her own head.

The backdrop for this film is very dark and drab with blustery backgrounds and a lack of color that gives everything a muddled and eerie vibe. As Ruth, played by Molly Windsor, goes down a rabbit hole of suspicion and paranoia, things get darker and darker until the character is in such a dizzying swirl of reality bending moments, she finds herself questioning just about everything. Oakley never quite lets you know what is valid within her reality bending tale which is very effective in keeping you engaged in the story because you really have no idea what's going to happen next.

Alongside Molly Windsor's impressive work in the lead role, I also saw great things from Joseph Quinn as Ruth's boyfriend Tom and Stefanie Martini as Jade, a woman Ruth develops a relationship with over the course of the film. Each of these three actors have a great presence on screen, they worked together really well, and I could see all of them having bright futures as their careers develop.

I thought there might some element of the mystical or magical involved in the story but ultimately everything plays out without much in the way of fantastical involvement. I think the point here is to show just how difficult our teenage years can be and especially for a young woman who might find herself in a place of being lost physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I mean, it's really not that hard to see how someone can fall into the traps that Ruth finds herself in with a lot of it coming from her imagination taking a single thing or moment and creating wildly elaborate stories.

The Verdict:
Make Up is a mind bending and genre bending thriller and an impressive debut effort from UK director Claire Oakley. A strong performance from Molly Windsor anchors a story that breaks down a teenager's mental health and emotional well being while at the same time questioning her own sexuality.

It's also important to note that Claire Oakley is a co-founder of Cinesisters, a peer-to-peer mentoring group for female directors. It's great to see a collective of creatives pushing the female narrative forward in positive ways.

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