Four films at the BFI London Film Festival paint a thought-provoking picture of British women not ‘having it all’ from teenage. coming of age, adulthood to middle age.
The Four Ages of British Womanby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Rocks by Brick Lane director Sarah Gavron (Suffragette) is both sad and joyous. Schoolgirl Rocks (irrepressible Bukky Bakray) is unexpectedly left to cope with caring for her sparky little brother (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), cope with school and avoid being taken into care. It’s heartbreaking. But she and her friends, a multiracial inner-city group, also have the capacity to be exuberant and burst with joyful life.
Make Up is a coming-of-age horror/drama by first-time director Claire Oakley. Ruth (Molly Windsor) is 18, joins her boyfriend working the winter season at a Cornwall caravan park. Things are not how she thinks they are and her investigation leads to growing awareness of her sexuality.
Rare Beasts is acclaimed actress Billie Piper‘s first film as screenwriter/director. She stars herself as Mandy, a single mother trying to have it all – career, relationship… a life. It’s an anti-rom com of a relationship that’s not working and the rather self-indulgent, first-world problems of living that kind of urban, arty life that pull a young woman apart.
Hope Gap is the well-written (and directed by William Nicholson, The Heart of the Matter), well-acted story of the breaking up of a middle-aged marriage. It’s perceptive but particular to its milieu, tear-jerking but somehow also staid. Annette Bening and Bill Nighy are wonderful as the couple, for whom love has died for only one of them and how the misery has to be dealt with emotionally and practically, but the focus is also the effect of the revelation on their adult son (Josh O’Connor).
Rocks, Make Up, Rare Beasts and Hope Gap screened at the 63rd BFI London Film Festival in October 2019. Rocks is released on 24 April 2020 in the UK.