The Levelling

Watched: 23 August

Hope Dickson Leach’s debut film has been praised to the high heavens in some quarters; personally it’s one that I like, rather than love, but there is evident skill in its making and this director is certainly someone worth keeping an eye on. It’s set in the aftermath of the 2014 flooding of the Somerset Levels, and details the return of vet-to-be Clover (Ellie Kendrick) to her family’s farm in the wake of her brother Harry’s suicide. The story concentrates on Clover’s examination of her relationship with Harry, as well as the problematic relationships both siblings had/have with father Aubrey (David Troughton), who has taken to heavy drinking and has apparently been neglecting the farm and its livestock while also remaining adamant that Harry’s death was an accident. While it’s sympathetic to some issues faced by those living and working in the countryside (which appears at equal turns beautiful and grim thanks to versatile cinematography by Nanu Segal), The Levelling is at its best when the setting becomes more incidental and Dickson Leach really hones in on the characters, exploring the notion of family members not knowing their nearest and dearest as well as they think they do. Admittedly I have no idea how I would react to the circumstances that Aubrey and Clover find themselves in here, but nevertheless it did seem to me a measured portrait of a family’s grief and trauma, both in terms of the death of Harry and the fallout after the flood. (***½)

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