Director: All Good Children
This highly atmospheric first feature by Alicia Duffy was inspired by Sam Taylor’s novel The Republic of Trees, the disturbing tale of a group of kids who, inspired by Rousseau’s The Social Contract, set up an alternative society in the countryside. Jettisoning much of the novel’s narrative detail, Duffy concentrates on one young protagonist, 12-year-old Dara (Jack Gleeson), an Irish lad who travels with his older brother to stay with their aunt in northern France. Exploring the local woods, Dara comes across and befriends Bella (Imogen Jones), a flame-haired English girl of about his own age. Making an abandoned lodge into their secret place, the youngsters form a bond that comes to mean much more to Dara than it does to Bella. A sense of foreboding permeates the film from the start, and director Duffy makes skilful use of sounds and images to convey the inner turmoil of her young protagonist. At once grittily realistic and heavily stylised in the manner of Lynne Ramsay’s work, this is a most promising debut.
Notes by Peter Walsh