Dirty God review – brave debut powers acid-attack drama | Film

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First-time actor Vicky Knight shows tremendous nerve and courage playing an acid-attack survivor in Sacha Polak’s gritty, grounded London drama. In real-life, the 23-year-old was scarred in a fire as a child and has spoken movingly to the Guardian about the trauma of filming nude scenes and closeups of her burns (enhanced for the film by makeup). Well, not only is she brave, she’s good, too, inhabiting her funny, impulsive, often unlikable character utterly.

Dirty God’s script skips the attack, picking up with Jade (Knight) as she’s leaving hospital after months of operations and skin grafts. Back at home in the flat on a London estate where she lives with her mum and two-year-old daughter, everyone tells Jade that she’ll be able to get on with her life when her ex-boyfriend is sentenced for the crime. But how can she move on when every time she leaves the house people stare? Jade’s doctors are happy with her progress, but she trawls the internet in search of a miracle cure, finding a cheap plastic surgery clinic in Morocco that promises to correct her scarring.

Dirty God is Dutch director Polak’s English-language debut, and it’s an authentic portrait of London. Polak shoots with in-the-moment energy: in hospital wards, at a grime club, in a drab call centre where Jade gets a job to pay for surgery.

This is a film about a young woman made by young women (co-written by Polak and Susie Farrell), who aren’t shy of thinking about what Jade’s sex life is going to look like now. The guy she was flirting with before the attack (Bluey Robinson), has got together with her best mate (Rebecca Stone) – both are brilliantly cast. It’s intense but not unwatchably painful, and so much more than an issue film or portrait of a victim. I really hope Knight finds a place in the film industry; with her terrific performance here she’s earned it.

Source: The Guardian
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