Norfolk is dreary, sometimes scary, and full of mad folk. And this film captures that essence perfectly (waheyyyyy, see what I did there?). I’m not going to pretend that I knew what was going on at all times, nor that I liked certain scenes, but writer-director Martin Radich has given people an impressive showcase of style and mood.
Denis Menochet and Barry Keoghan are the two main characters. A man and boy. A father and son. The former is traumatised by his past, a past that has shaped him to be a killer when the need arises, and the latter is in the process of learning from his father, while also learning plenty for himself. And there’s a young girl (Goda Letkauskaite) who may need saved from a bad situation, while an elderly couple (Sean Buckley and Eileen Davies) seem to want Menochet to come to harm.
It’s very hard to quantify some things in this movie. The acting, for example. Menochet, Keoghan and Letkauskaite seem to do okay, but there are times when they are being deliberately artificial. Buckley and Davies are more consistent, with most of their scenes taking place in a more concrete reality, as far as I am aware. You see, that is what Radich does to his cast. He takes the characters and drags them through a confusing nightmare landscape that allows the past to bleed into the present, as well as the imagined bleeding into the real world.
Or maybe he doesn’t.
This is both the greatest strength AND weakness of the film. Radich keeps viewers off-kilter, overlaying most of the scenes with a mix of hazy visuals and unusual dialogue. If I could remember any specific speeches off the top of my head then one or two examples would quickly prove my point, this is, if not a full nightmare in film form, a dark drama suffused with the illogicality of dreams. You’ll end up watching half of the scenes while still trying to unpick the preceding moments, making the whole thing a disorienting and tense experience.
A challenging film that skirts very close to being an outright horror movie at times, this should be watched by anyone interested in exciting cinema. While it fails to become an entirely satisfying movie experience, it does enough to warrant attention. And I’m certainly interested in whatever else Radich gets up to, with no small amount of hope that he takes the plunge into some full-on horror next time.
Norfolk was screened at EIFF 2015.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: MARTIN RADICH
STARS: DENIS MENOCHET, BARRY KEOGHAN, GODA LETKAUSKAITE, SEAN BUCKLEY, EILEEN DAVIES
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX