Silver Haze  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Sacha Polak, Netherlands/UK, 2023, 103 mins

Cast:  Vicky Knight, Esmé Creed-Miles, Angela Bruce

Review by Carol Allen

The short choppy opening scenes of the film make it difficult to sort out at first who is who and to get a grip on the situation, which revolves around Frankie (Vicky Knight), who is a nurse and was herself badly scarred by a fire which happened when she was a child.  She is living with her extended family in Dagenham  but is emotionally isolated

She then falls in love with one of her patients, Florence (Esmé Creed-Miles) and they take off together to Southend where they spend time with Florence’s foster mother Alice (Angela Bruce) and Florence’s  brother (Brandon Bendell).

The acting is excellent, particularly Knight in the leading role, who was herself genuinely scarred in a childhood fire but exhibits no inhibition or embarrassment about  displaying  her body when required.  Bruce as Alice is also outstanding as the only sane and well balanced character in the story – but her story isn’t exactly joyful.

The film is part of what I term the “British School of Miserabilism”.   An unremittingly depressing study in dysfunction with a story which, apart from the central, fairly upbeat and loving lesbian romance, also embraces violence, including sexual assault, homophobia, arson, drug taking and terminal illness.    In its telling it also meanders around rather shapelessly and many of the characters sport such strong and authentic Estuary English accents as to be incomprehensible to most people other than real East Enders 

In fact it makes Les Miserables look like a light hearted comedy.   It’s a beautifully acted piece  but real “slit your wrist”, wallowing in depression story material.