Director: Mahalia Belo
Cast: Jodie Comer, Joel Fry, Katherine Waterston, Gina McKee, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
Rating: NC16 (Nudity and Scene of Intimacy)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 18 January 2024
Synopsis: When an environmental crisis sees London submerged by flood waters, a young family is torn apart in the chaos. As a woman and her newborn try and find their way home, the profound novelty of motherhood is brought into sharp focus in this intimate and poetic portrayal of family survival.
Set against a climate catastrophism background, the Jodie Comer starrer unfolds with a bathtub filling to the brim with a heavily pregnant woman getting into it before her waters break - a symbolic parallelism of what’s happening to Mother Earth.
With their lives eclipsed by demises, one after another, the new mum (Comer) and dad (Joel Fry) are just as vulnerable as the infant when it comes to navigating through the unfeeling world that lay bare before them. While experiencing a normal motherhood sans the racket seems to be just a reverie, Comer’s character which is endearingly known as Woman/Mother, is called to create a womb-like safe haven for her little one amidst the mayhem that separates them from her hubby.
Routing through erratic behaviour, stampedes while clamouring for rations, suicide, crimes, violence and much more forbidding episodes, Comer who’s hailed as a national treasure and Liverpool’s finest, seamlessly embodies the role of a strong-willed mama that battles the surge of emotions that comes in magnitude of tidal waves, while gradually regressing back to basics.
And through every step of the ordeal, Mother (Comer) somehow feels that her son is owed an apology for the ordeal that she has put him through. And almost like a cheeky yet assuring riposte, the infant's exultant gurgles dispel rubbles of chaos that seems never-ending.
Global warming clearly isn't solely about environmental hazards such as flash floods, landslides and the like. In the film that is based on a novel by Megan Hunter, climate emergency is definitely depicted as something that’s no longer the kind where the sun would start shining and everything will be rosy once again. It swells to a severity where boats start sailing on the roads in place of buses. And with such catastrophic extremity, people are instigated to hulk into beastly beings in the name of survival. While it’s not exactly an end- of-the-world flick, the emotive eye-opener, that features some maternal nudity and the almost obligatory dry English humour interjections, depicts it faultlessly.
The novel-to-screen adaptation by Alice Birch is far from a narrative that’s based on a singular character’s perspective. With a multi-faceted plot, it's far more abysmal than just an account of a woman who positively goes against the tide with her newborn. It's something that a collective as big as the world should be fretting over as we trail the mother-child duo from the time of their lives falling apart till the time she decides to have a closure that marks a full circle. The poignance of unadulterated friendships and Joel Fry’s screentime certainly propels the plot forward and not forgetting the spectacular cast (yes, you’d catch Benedict Cumberbatch’s toothy smile in this one) that bestuds the entire 106-minute of Mahalia Belo’s direction. The stimulating trailer of the British survival film with a female director, two female writers and a female lead indubitably hits a that’s-how-you-do-it vein with not every character divulged in the minute and a half. An ideal measure of intrigue, confusion and the need to know more is spawned.
The highly-biddable plot that could also be dubbed as a fairly lethargic survival film, the most believable disaster drama, or even one that is of a post-apocalyptic destruction genre, is a blend of A Quiet Place meets Children of Men with some hints of The Last of Us.
(With soul-baring performances and an unfiltered message nailed in an all too convincing fashion, The End We Start From is no less than a big screen prelude to what's creeping up on us in years to come)
Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas