Film Review: ‘Kindred’ (2020)

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Stars: Tamara Lawrance, Fiona Shaw and Jack Lowden
Director: Joe Marcantonio
Distributor: IFC Films

“They won’t let me go anywhere.”

In the most relevant film of 2020, Tamara Lawrance displays a masterclass, award-worthy performance, one which deserves to be remembered in the years to come. An incredible story of tragedy and its ill-fated consequences, Kindred is the powerful feature film debut of writer-director, Joe Marcantonio.

When happy couple Charlotte (Lawrance) and Ben (Edward Holcroft) reluctantly visit the Scottish estate of the latter’s mother, Margaret (Fiona Shaw), the initial intensions are to disclose of their relocation to Australia, much to the dismay of the elder in the family. But with a pregnancy against the odds, a miracle almost, Charlotte and Ben are presented with an even greater future ahead… Tragically, Ben passes away during the couple’s time at the estate, leaving Charlotte’s future up in the air. Though initially dismissive over wanting to have a child, Charlotte does a U-turn over her wishes and acceptance, but the wicked stepmother* of sorts (mother-in-law* technically), also has her eyes on the future child, as the unborn is the closest thing to her late son. Aided by Ben’s stepbrother and housekeeper, Thomas (Jack Lowden), an evil growth in Margaret’s obsession and manipulation over Charlotte, leaves her becoming a prisoner in a new world which she can’t escape from.

Whilst generally tragic and quite scary in its genre forms, Kindred also provides a tremendous commentary on a great deal of issues, all of which are 100% relevant right now. With the pacing of the film at a somewhat slow speed, the mass inclusion of issues avoid feeling rushed or shoehorned in, but instead, have a powerful and damning projection to the viewing audience. Everything from class, women’s rights, pro-choice, and white privilege, all the way to false imprisonment, Kindred is unbelievably successful in balancing its messages and observations, alongside its primary existence as a creepy-as-f*ck horror drama, which occasionally delves into the realm of psychological thriller. Kindred is a scary film, but which is scarier: impending terror or control? Again, with its slow pacing, there is a build-up of uncomfortable tension and expected doom now and again. Marcantonio’s terrific direction and storytelling, mixed with genre expectation, manages to constantly play with the viewer’s expectation over and over again with the endless possibilities in context and content.

Furthermore, in a potentially scarier existence, Kindred acts as a what could happen if tragedy strikes when pregnant, but that is just one alternative reading, one which was probably low on Marcantonio’s intensions. Whether Charlotte manages to break free or not, even the light in her life – her child to be – is stained with such a strong negativity, a constant reminder of death and destruction, can she ever really escape?

A film equipped with such striking imagery, an array of obscure angles, close-ups of crow’s feathers, and the establishment of the estate as a character in itself, Kindred is ready to endure and excite in select theatres, on digital platforms, and on VOD now.

Many thanks to IFC Midnight for the pleasure of this film.

5 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, IFC Films, Fair Use  

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