Wow, just wow. It’s not that Unconditional is the best movie I’ve seen recently, or even the strangest (though it tries hard, my particular movie tastes usually see me watching more strange stuff than the average cinemagoer) but it’s certainly impressively different and may well be the most interesting, unpredictable and twisted love story that I’ve seen since Love Object. Having little idea (well, none at all, actually) of what the movie was about, I somehow expected some dark psychothriller akin to the incendiary Charlie Casanova but what I got was so unexpected that I’ll err on the side of caution here and reveal very little, in order for everyone else to experience the movie as I did. Every time I thought it was moving left it then swerved right and just when I thought I had everything predicted the rug was pulled out from under my feet. In a good way.
A film about love, sexuality, living life your own way and making the most of everything, I am going to frustrate you now by saying very little about the actual plot of Unconditional but, believe me, it’s for the best. Kristen (Madeleine Clark) and Owen (Harry McEntire) are two teenage twins, struggling to enjoy life while they also look after their disabled mother (Melanie Hill). When Kristen applies for a loan it’s smooth and charming Liam (Christian Cooke) who comes to the door and this leads to a story that, I guarantee you, takes a sharp diversion away from any plot point that you’re currently thinking up.
Director Bryn Higgins and writer Joe Fisher have really created something powerful, memorable and truly unique here and it’s the kind of movie that, even while not perfect, I want to spend far too much time praising, at the risk of boring everyone who ever asks me for a recommendation.
The material, as strong as it is, is elevated to dizzying heights by superb, and superbly brave, performances. Madeleine Clark does well in her role but the acting from Christian Cooke and Harry McEntire is astoundingly good. Marrying natural talent with a script that always seems potentially explosive, the final result is not entirely dissimilar to the more impressive outings from director Shane Meadows.
For reasons I can’t go into here (damn my need to keep things spoiler-free), this film finds a new way to look at a horrible way of life and balances the more downbeat moments with a number of uplifting scenes to make it all easier to endure. The last half hour or so may anger and/or sadden you greatly but it’s not without a ray of sunshine or two poking through the gathering clouds.
DIRECTOR: BRYN HIGGINS
WRITER: JOE FISHER
STARS: CHRISTIAN COOKE, HARRY MCENTIRE, MADELEINE CLARK, MELANIE HILL, JAMES BOLAM
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX