God’s Creatures

A son’s return home to a remote Irish fishing village brings delight to his mother but when he is accused of a serious crime her loyalty to him tests her own sensibilities of right and wrong, which has devastating consequences on the local community. Opening in UK cinemas from 31st March.

A mother Aileen O’Hara (Emily Watson) is overjoyed at the return of her son Brian (Paul Mescal) to the family home in a small fishing village in Ireland, albeit he’s arrived during the wake of another young local fisherman lost to the sea, and so revealing the harsh tradition of the fishermen of not learning how to swim in case they try to save one another.

The son has returned home from his time spent in Australia and is now looking to start afresh back in the family business of oyster farming. He’s keen to get on, but it is clear he left to get away from some unresolved family strife between himself and his father, which lends to a troubled atmosphere under the family roof once again, despite his initial warm welcome.

The close knit community is centred around the fishing industry where Aileen fills another matriarchal role at the fish sorting factory, overseeing the workforce in a supervisory role. The largely female workforce show their close camaraderie and dedication to their jobs despite its unrelenting demands. The local pub is another focal point of the community bringing people together for some welcome relief from the daily toil with singing and dancing. It is here Brian meets up with Sarah (Aisling Franciosi), one of the factory girls who later accuses him of the crime that puts his mother Aileen in a scrupulous position. Her instincts make her side with the son she dotes on and in doing so cuts Sarah adrift turning the village on its head.

Produced by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly and written by Shane Crowley both of whom hail from a similar remote fishing village in Ireland fictionalised here, they look to explore the darker side of life in a community, which may hold more stories and secrets far saltier than the sea they reside by.

Directed by two New Yorkians Saela Davis & Anna Rose Holmer, who were especially chosen to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the enchanting Irish coastline, they’ve conjured a stormy tale, which has been atmospherically enhanced here by a haunting musical score to match.

Paul Mescal who plays Brian has the air of the good son returning home but also has the physical presence and look to know he’s accustomed to handling the menacing conditions. Emily Watson bravely takes on the sea, willing to don the waders and get waist deep in the North Atlantic Ocean and is equally brave in taking on an Irish accent, which has benefited from some pronunciation coaching. Aisling Franciosi’s Sarah has a stoic look of resignation in the face of adversity, initially shown in her soft melancholic Irish folk ballad singing when she does a turn in the pub. The supporting cast include some local Irish characters too that maintain the Irish authenticity and fishery know-how throughout the film, which the production design team especially profited from when they needed to re-create the factory location in order to fit the camera movements in.

The Irish coastal village makes for an epic backdrop with its steep cliff faces, crashing coastal waves and lofty horizons. The action jumps quicker than a sinkhole from the accusation to the aftermath as the mother repudiates her son’s guilt and things quickly career out of control, but from the opening sequence until the end its the humbling continuity of the sea that giveth and that can taketh away.

Film: God’s Creatures

Director: Saela Davis & Anna Rose Holmer

Genre: Drama

Stars: Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, Aisling Franciosi

Run time: 1hr 40mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s