us among the stones | Movie Threat

We among the stonesDR Hood’s directorial sequel to 2011 Demolishers, is an eloquent family drama where the past comes back to stir a family. On a Dartmoor farm, generations have lived in this humble abode. Sadly, it looks like Marianne (Anna Calder-Marshall), the family matriarch, is on her deathbed.

Marianne and her husband Richard (Oliver Cotton) invite the family over for what could be his last birthday party. Their eldest son, Owen (Laurence Fox), arrives with a heavy heart, unsure how to navigate an emotional minefield. Joining Owen are his siblings, the uninhibited Danny (Jethro Skinner) and the headstrong Rose (Mika Simmons), as well as his ex-partner, Caroline (Raia Haidar). Meanwhile, Uncle Jack (Greg Hicks) and Uncle Brian (Bill Thomas) arrive, further complicating the family dynamic.

First and foremost, it should be noted that the characters bicker and talk like a real family. That’s because the entire cast delivers, invigorating family angst with their taut body language and fervent delivery. Set on a quaint farmhouse inhabited with a vivid and sentimental history, there are many moments where family members reflect on the past. Sporadicly inserting photographic stills and Super 8 footage, Hood provides fleeting glimpses of memories that coalesce to form a rich, emotional core that leaves an impression.

“…inviting the family for what might be her final birthday party.”

Say what you will about Laurence Fox, but he’s in good acting form here, giving a touching performance as a son trying to figure out a reality without his mother. Owen reacts vehemently and thoughtfully to an increasingly tense environment, which culminates in a lengthy dinner streak where revelations and feverish emotions can no longer be contained. Anna Calder-Marshall walks a fine line between being modestly vulnerable and frustratingly reserved. Calder-Marshall’s interactions with Fox are particularly poignant.

Through overlapping dialogue and frivolous conversation, Hood encapsulates the erratic nature of family reunions and the elusiveness of memory. The film is emotionally charged and often messy in the sense that the focus shifts in an instant, interweaving dialogue upon dialogue, which can be exhausting (but what family reunion isn’t?). Yet Hood’s semi-expressionist direction elicits a visually appealing and experimental structure that pays off. Visually, the film is simply stunning, blending past and present in an effectively periodic way that lives up to the film’s gloomy tone. Annemarie Lean-Vercoe’s cinematography, in particular, works in unison with the wondrous, rolling landscape to bring forth velvety, earthy tones.

Despite the family tension, We among the stones emphasizes the importance of family and never forgetting where you come from. Hood’s low-budget indie won’t move mountains, but it will gently move you with stunning visuals and a daringly intimate vision.

For more information on screening, visit We among the stones official site.

About Debra D. Johnson

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