Norfolk (2015)

Director: Martin Radich Starring: Denis Menochet, Barry Keoghan, Goda Letkaustie. UK. 1h 23m

Sometimes cinema can be drab and unkind, which is the unnerving feeling you’ll end up with after watching Martin Radich’s Surreal coming of age art house drama.

The downtrodden ,depressing atmosphere permeates from the screen, as a father attempts to protect and train his son. While living off the grid in a remote rural location the two have strained relationship, mulling around their isolated home, their only connection is watching tv together. Unbeknowst to the son, a job from the past has caught up with his father and now their lives are in danger and one more murder must be commited, just one more contract or one more act of revenge.

The father, a disburbed mercenary, known only as “Man” is played by French actor Denis Menochet. He often sits alone in a dank room of his sparsely furnished home in tranquil Norfolk, watching multiple TV’s, like a desperate attempt to forget his past insurrections? Or maybe he’s a man who fell to earth. Whatever he used to do seems to have turned him into a cold bizarre man, but one who tries to support his lively son. Yet something appears to be eating him up on the inside, and his troubles are often found in his face.

During his time away from home, the Boy (Keogan) falls in love with a young pretty girl, who is connected with his fathers work, the star crossed lovers frolic in the countryside totally unaware of the cruel world around them. Meanwhile an extremely angry father and his doting wife are getting ever closer to their goal of extracting a violent revenge on the man and his boy. Watching the two families draw ever closer is incredibly nerve racking due to promises of violence.

Radich, a distinctive risk taking British filmmaker, has picked two highly attuned and seasoned actors to do more than act, they express art in his movie. Despite Keoghan’s young age, he’s spread himself over some incredibly diverse genres, from the dark comedy/thriller Traders (2015) to the moral bending Killing of the Sacred Deer (2017), neither of the lead actors are afraid to dig deep into their characters complexity, clearly both are incredibly talented.

Fuck me Charlie you’ve aged

-Old man

Well it has been fifteen years sir

-Charlie

Norfolk, at times, is a very slow movie, almost subdued at times. The long silent moments, and constant brooding amongst the cast, who are always angry but never saying why can almost depress an audience. There’s a huge build up to something that may never come as if Norfolk is the scenic route. It’s the kind of movie that will have viewers demanding time back. But if you like murky dramas such as Possum (2018) or The Goob (2014) but without the magnificent Sean Harris, then this might be up your street however it doesn’t have that visceral edge and throbbing plot.

So many people won’t want to delve into the mire of emotions conjured up by the film’s dreamy narratives. There’s a depressing sadness in the violence, a confliction of wanting to kill and wanting to protect, if anything it will raise a lot of awkward questions. Norfolk tries to describe several esoteric messages, on one hand, what has happened, is in the past and we can only move on, also fighting violence with violence isn’t always the answer and finally the sins of the father shouldn’t burden his son. Whatever you take from the Radich’s unusual drama, you’ll be sure that you’ve seen something different that won’t be mimicked anytime soon.

Rating: 5/10

Related: The Goob (2014), Possum (2018)
Spotlight: Barry Keoghan

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