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There’s a really interesting pairing of two really interesting screen presences – Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn – in this flawed but potent psychological chiller. It’s a claustrophobic chamber drama about emotional breakdown co-written for the screen by Campbell-Hughes with the film’s director Adrian Shergold. In some ways, it’s a riff on Polanski’s Repulsion, with the story of a lonely young woman beginning to get unmoored from unreality.
Campbell-Hughes plays Cordelia, a troubled, damaged soul who is only just recovering after some unnamed trauma; she is an actor rehearsing a play and comes to stay in a creepy London mansion flat occupied by her twin sister Caroline (also played by Campbell-Hughes) and Caroline’s boyfriend Matt (Joel Fry); they leave her alone there. Cordelia strikes up a friendship with Frank (Flynn) the charming, but strange and unreliable young man they can hear practising his cello in the upstairs flat – a relationship which quickly becomes very disturbing.
Shergold and Campbell-Hughes orchestrate some very disquieting dream sequences, and scenes in which ostensible reality bleeds into a hallucinatory dream state. And they have some excellent moments down in the London Underground, whose potential for horror is often mishandled by film-makers but works well here, especially at the very beginning. And there’s a genuinely unsettling moment where Cordelia leaves London for an interlude at her stepmother’s house in East Anglia, a journey which proceeds as weightlessly as a dream – and perhaps it is a dream.
Cordelia contains cameos from Alun Armstrong and also Michael Gambon, as the scatterbrained elderly neighbour who starts a highly unwelcome conversation about whether or not having mice in your flat means you won’t have rats. Perhaps this film doesn’t entirely work all the way through, but it is a shard of malevolence that jabs into your skin.
• Released on 23 October in cinemas.
Source: The Guardian
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