Film Review: The Levelling (2016)

Hope Dickson Leach’s The Levelling is a haunting film debut, and a grim one too

“There’s nothing for you here anymore”

Eee, it’s grim to be a farmer in the UK right now, if we’re to believe what we see in the cinema. At least in Yorkshire, there’s the chance of some hot gay sex but in Somerset, things look decidedly worse with not even that relief as an option.

Writer/director Hope Dickson Leach finds something more desperate in the unforgiving land of the Somerset levels, as she explores the fracturing of a family farm in the aftermath of the death of the son and heir. Trainee vet Clover returns for the funeral of her brother but is shocked at what she discovers.

For the damage the farm suffered in severe floods some years back has gone unrepaired, insurance claims rejected, and secrets left to fester like rotten carcasses. Ellie Kendrick and David Troughton play the strained daughter/father to perfection as she tries to unpick what has happened here, the truth about her brother’s demise, the reality of how her father is living.

As with God’s Own Country, there’s no romance here in rural living. The blistered hands from spadework, the blood and guts of animal husbandry and something creepier, more ominous too. Nanu Segal’s cinematography and Ben Baird’s sound design capturing the weirdness of nature as well as its isolationism. A chilling but commendable watch. 

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