Debut feature writer-director Hope Dickson Leach’s lean “The Levelling” steeps in sorrow. A father and daughter, Aubrey (David Troughton) and Clover (Ellie Kendrick, “Game of Thrones”), hopelessly distant, try to accommodate each other after the suicide of a son—“a stupid bloody accident”—circling each other at the family home in rural Somerset. She returns from veterinary studies to pitch in. Their motions toward one another are modest, muted. Life on the farm must go on, even after a season of traumatic floods that devastated landscape and homestead. The unspoken speaks volumes.
Kendrick impresses with a performance of looks and glances, shade and suppressed shudder. Anxiety mutes. Clover’s melancholy blooms. The sodden landscape refracts. Leach’s origins in shorts-making may have given her the confidence of tempo that urges “The Levelling” toward a swell of emotion. With Jack Holden, Joe Blakemore. 83m. (Ray Pride)
“The Leveling” opens Friday, March 24 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.