Review: Still (2014)

One thing I will always aim to do is examine the film in and of itself and try as much as I can to avoid the cinematic pre-life (the interaction, impressions, and ideas I may have had with and about the film before seeing it) having any influence on my writing on it. However, that is not always possible. One way in which that’s true is when you’re watching an actor who has become very well known for a role, particularly one on television. In this case I refer to Aiden Gillen, best known to most as Petyr Baelish a.k.a. Littlefinger on Game of Thrones.

Specifically to the large cast on Game of Thrones I’ve noticed a few interesting things: first, you can almost forget how deep and talented the cast is because you see them on a weekly basis, usually in small but strong snippets. Then when you see the same actor in a film, where they get to dominate a lot more screentime you are almost taken aback. This has proven true with Isaac Hempstead-Wright in The Awakening, Art Parkinson in Dracula Untold, but this extends past house Stark too one example being Nicolaj Coster-Waldau in Headhunters. Another interesting thing is that it can affect your view of the title some: Lena Headey was in 300 before Game of Thrones, then returned for the sequel. That sequel had a lot more issues than the original and the lack of her involvement, because I know knew her better, was one of them.

However, one thing I don’t expect these actors to do is to be static or settle into a type. I relish seeing them stretch and test their mettle, which is usually why actors are drawn to indies in the first place. It’s also a testament to my blank slate theory as I had forgotten the synopsis by the time I went to check this film out.

If you’re interested here it is:

A gritty and atmospheric thriller about the traumatic disintegration of a man and father, STILL is the haunting, deeply moving story about a journey every parent hopes they will never have to make. Tom Carver (Aidan Gillen, Game of Thrones and The Wire) is a man stumbling blindly towards a crossroads in his life, recently thrown out of focus following the unexpected, tragic death of his teenage son in a car crash. After a seemingly harmless encounter with a neighborhood kid, he finds himself involved in a feud with a teenage gang that quickly intensifies to more disturbing and horrifying heights. With Tom’s personal life unraveling before his eyes, and the threat of gang violence escalating out of control, the world he is so desperately trying to rebuild may disintegrate all together.

What that set-up moves puts in play is a scenario wherein the stakes are ever-rising and the spiral is potentially ever-downward, and allows for an arc of such power that its positively captivating. That’s not to say this film is merely an actors’ showcase. That would be incorrect and unfair for this is a great film that is compelling because of the characters it builds. One you get to know very well and see how he responds to getting pushed. Some you assume you know and get to know better as the film progresses.

Nor is Gillen alone in his strong showing here. Joining him as being of note are Elodie Young, who as a pained but distanced ex-wife, and Sonny Green, who plays his one-note expertly and surprisingly adds quite a few towards the end.

This film is one that starts small and slowly but mushrooms and truly earns its tragic arc that makes it worth investing time in. It’s simple in conception but not easy to execute by any means.

Still is hypnotic and most effective because of how it manages to reverse fortune in its closing act, as well as have you dole out your empathy to many of the concerned parties, leaving your jaw agape at its conclusion. This is a film I’d recommend to anyone looking for a drama with a tragic arc, and serious real world stakes.

9/10

Still will be available on DVD on June 30th.

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