Unrelated is an emotionally gripping British drama. It’s easy to imagine someone would glance at that last sentence and decide instead to go see The Dark Knight again.
Having said that, there are certain cases where it pays off to be a little high brow and give the underdog independent British film a chance. This is most definitely one of those cases.
The film follows an English woman named Anna (Kathryn Worth) in her late thirties going through her mid-life crisis, reassessing her life and relationships.
Taking time away from her husband, she stays with her old school friend and their family in Tuscany. Here she tries to distract from problems and regain her youth by hanging out with her friend’s son Oakley (Tom Hiddleston) and his gang of chums. This relationship with Tom snowballs and swiftly becomes progressively dodgy.
The highest praise that Unrelated can be given is how hugely impressive it is that this thought provoking piece of work is director Joanna Hogg’s first feature film, seeming to be the crescendo type film that most filmmakers would hit on late in their careers.
Hogg has bypassed the norm and managed it the first time around. Gripping your emotions from the get go, the film is multi-layered, dealing with a vast array of issues such as sexual relationships, gender, youth and power.
It is clearly an extremely personal and somewhat auto-biographical piece with the lead female being of a similar age and life situation to that of the director. It is a brave and genuine example of the mindset of a protagonist not usually dealt with in cinema; the existentially confused middle aged woman.
The performances too are outstanding. While the dialogue is meticulously planned it is not so much what the characters say rather how they say it that is important. There’s a feeling of spontaneity in the film which make the performances seem all the more real.
While Kathryn Worth is fantastic as Anna, it is young actor Tom Hiddleston who stands out, managing to pull off a character who is both slick and charming while underneath being selfish, arrogant and malicious.
The camerawork also deserves a mention as it is unusually still and motionless giving an irksome feel especially to a generation accustomed to the wham bang MTV style.
The main thing that sticks with you after the film is how refreshing the whole experience is. It is a very honest portrayal of woman’s situation in life that is both uncomfortable and liberating. Of course, it’s not going to be for everyone. It is not by any means a relaxing film and if you go with that expectation you will be sorely disappointed.
However, if you go with an open mind and a very high brow you’re going to be treated to one of the mini classics of the year.