Departure (15) – A Preview

Writer/director Andrew Stegall’s debut feature is a brittle, delicate window into the stifling relationship between a mother and her son, pregnant with ennui and the unspoken sadness of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises.

Many will come to this film with high expectations of a fine performance from Julia Stevenson, and she is as reliable as ever, but this is really Alex Lawther’s film. His small but significant role in the Imitation Game now feels like a dress rehearsal for Elliot, a fey, narcissistic teenager who comes to France with his fretful Mum. His blindness to her distress is convincingly adolescent, requiring that the audience dispassionately deduces, from a collage of set pieces and sparse dialogue, how the pair got to be this way. Phénix Brossard downplays the role of their mutual love interest, offering in Clément a blank canvass onto which they can project their displaced affections, while Finbar Lynch’s grumpy husband adds welcome spice to the third act.

This is a film about the great British condition of not talking about things, and as such is in no hurry to deliver the goods. But while there is perhaps a little too much staring into the middle distance, the film remains an intriguing, fragmentary tale of love, loss and longing that leaves enough unanswered questions to keep you pondering long after the credit rolls.

David Vass