At the beginning of the film, Charlotte, played by actress Tamara Lawrance of the series ‘The Long Song,’ stares at a small bird in a cage. She seems to be deep in thought, perhaps feeling sorry for the poor winged creature who’s trapped in what looks to be, to the human eye, a beautiful home.
What should be free is stuck in this small prison for all eternity. Director Joe Marcantonio then magnifies this message by focusing on a large Raven that lands on a windowsill. The bird looks in at Charlotte in the same way she had done with the confined bird. You can’t help but wonder if the Raven is some sort of fortune-teller coming to warn her that something’s amiss. If so, the question is, will Charlotte pay attention to the onyx prognosticator? Another thing you’ll ponder is whether the bird is truly there.
After that scene, we shift to the main storyline that Charlotte and her boyfriend Ben, ‘Kingsman’ actor Edward Holcroft, who are planning to move from England to Australia. The mansion that also houses the birdcage is the home with which Ben grew up. They’re visiting to break the news of their move to Ben’s mother.
When they do, the declaration isn’t accepted very well. Ben’s somewhat tyrannical mother, Margaret, played by Fiona Shaw, famous for playing Aunt Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise, is rather rattled. Shaw was excellent as Aunt Petunia, and her performance here is just as good, if not better. She not only gets nasty about the plans Charlotte and Ben are trying to make, but downright unreasonable.
Shaw is so strong in the performance that she turns a moderately dull film into an exciting one when she’s on-screen. Why do I say dull? Well, the genres ‘Kindred’ is labeled as are drama, horror, and mystery. For the most part, I’d suggest the removal of the word horror. I must tell you that if you are looking for a good scare, don’t look for it here. Shaw and Lawrance’s work does help to give the feeling of a decent psychological thriller, primarily upon the entrance of Ben’s stepbrother Thomas, Jack Lowden of the movie ‘Dunkirk.’ I’d like to point out that his work here is quite notable, as well.
Soon after we meet this character, a bit of a ‘monkey wrench’ is thrown into the young couple’s works. They want to move to Australia to be free of his family and the agitation of their current circumstances. They want to have fun and enjoy creating a new way of life for themselves. They create a new life, alright, but not the kind that Charlotte had in mind. Before they have time to leave, she gets ill, goes to the doctor, and finds out she’s pregnant. Ben is delighted, but Charlotte knows that it means the end of their dreams. The last thing she wanted was to have her plans set back with pregnancy. The young woman doesn’t want a parasite inside of her body, sucking the life from her. She confesses to a friend that she has no interest in being a mother.
The film finally picks up steam here. Something happens to Ben, and he dies. After his death, Margaret and Thomas don’t plan on letting Charlotte leave. She finds that she’s practically a prisoner. Think back to the little bird.
A lot of the dialogue from here on out is essential to listen to, which is why I see the film as a drama, not a horror. It seems that Charlotte may have an undiagnosed illness. It’s possible the same one her mother had when she was pregnant with Charlotte. She had been diagnosed with perinatal psychosis. That disorder can include depression, hallucinations, and delusions. Her mother couldn’t handle having a child and blamed young Charlotte for wreaking havoc on her life.
So, through the dialogue between Charlotte and Thomas in some intense scenes, and a few conversations she has with Margaret, you’ll learn a lot that does improve the story as a whole.
I enjoyed the score very much. The music helps to elevate the overall ambiance that Joe Marcantonio is attempting to build. He’s also the writer, along with his co-writer, Jason McColgan. As I mentioned, the two sneak in some fascinating exchanges with the main characters, which are lifted by extreme acting abilities, skilled camera work, and creative editing.
I can’t recommend you see this if you’re looking for a fright, but if you want to watch a compelling psychological drama that handles several issues in the world today (women’s rights and race) intelligently, look to this for your weekend entertainment.
‘KINDRED’ Opens in Select Theaters, on Digital Platforms and VOD on November 6th
Director: Joe Marcantonio
Writers: Joe Marcantonio, Jason McColgan
Stars: Tamara Lawrance, Fiona Shaw, Jack Lowden and Edward Holcroft
Running Time: 1h 41m
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery