Film Review: The End We Start From (2023)

With an excellent Jodie Comer at its heart, The End We Start From is a highly effective lo-fi disaster flick

“We’re doomed then, aren’t we”

I’m not sure what it says about me that one of my favourite genres is honest-to-goodness disaster films (Dante’s Peak, Deep Impact, San Andreas, 2012, Volcano – so much world-destroying fun!) but to be clear, The End We Start From is very much at the different end of the scale to those aforementioned films. A lo-fi approach means its dystopian storytelling feels all too realistic as an environmental crisis pushes British society to the brink.

Adapted by Alice Birch from Megan Hunter’s novel of the same name, Mahalia Belo’s film focuses on Jodie Comer’s simply named ‘Woman’ as she gives birth right at the moment that torrential rains and flooding cause London and other low-lying areas of Britain to be evacuated. Fleeing to the rural home of her husband’s parents offers scant relief as people are fighting over scarce food supplies and refugee camps end up being the best option, even as it means she needs to leave hubbie behind.

Comer really is excellent as our conduit into everything that is happening, poignantly and painstakingly careful to try and navigate this all-encompassing chaos. The film is much less concerned about big budget effects as it is with the echoing silences that indicate the psychological damage inflicted on so many who are suffering in this crisis. It’s almost Greek tragedy-like in its decisions to have people be told the terrible things that have happened rather than show them, and there’s quite a few of them to endure.

Joel Fry is great as the increasingly traumatised husband, Nina Sosanya and Mark Strong are briefly vivid as his parents and Gina McKee is hauntingly effective later on, trying to explain the new rules for a new world. There’s a quietness througout the film that allows Susie Lavelle’s elegant cinematography to explore this wordlessly, though the arrival of Katherine Waterston’s fellow refugee and mother injects a different energy for a time. Understatedly very good indeed.

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