Drifting through a gamut of murder, revenge and forgiveness, Oliver Hermanus’ The Endless River offers three perspectives on violence in South Africa.
No Way Outby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Opening with a sweeping score and slow dissolves over landscapes of South Africa’s Garden Route, Oliver Hermanus’ The Endless River has all the feel of a CinemaScope golden oldie in glorious technicolor. And with Nicolas Duvauchelle and Crystal-Donna Roberts in the main roles, it could at times be James Dean and Natalie Wood up there on the silver screen. But after this bright promise, The Endless River, divided into three chapters – Gilles, Percy and Tiny, is a rather melancholy thriller, as French ex-pat Gilles mourns the death of his brutally murdered family. Tipped off about the identity of the prime suspect by the small town’s chief of police, the question hangs over Tiny and Gilles’ burgeoning relationship of whether Gilles murdered Tiny’s husband Percy in a revenge attack. And despite great performances from Roberts and Duvauchelle – the French actor is here at his best yet, combining grief, anger and tenderness to great effect – Hermanus’ film is surprisingly unaffecting. But as an outsider’s perspective on South African lawlessness and a haunting study of the inescapability of violence, The Endless River reveals an ever flowing stream of hurt and pain.
The Endless River is now showing at the London Film Festival