Written and Directed by Paddy Considine.
What does really mean the sentence ‘it was meant to be this way’? It was destine, therefore there was nothing different one could do about it to change it? The fact is that one didn’t know when he or she had to change, that must be why the word destined. Either answer I might come up with it won’t really change anything; given that people live the way they live, they grow with fortune and some don’t, others are lucky that the people they choose to spent their lives with happen to be what they think they are and others are unlucky that those people change drastically to the wrong dark side.
People change, or maybe in another perspective, people will always end up being their true selves some point or another in their lives, they just need the specific amount of circumstances to become who they are. To me, this film talks a little about that and how hard it becomes for me to have faith in people.
Joseph is a lonely man, he’s getting old alone, he drinks more and more, everything makes him mad, he’s increasingly violent, he’s a raged man and he can’t seem to control it. His violent attitude towards others looks frightening. Then he meets this woman called Hanna, who seemingly appears to be the complete opposite of him. She owns a charity shop; she’s a religious woman, caring and given who even prays for him. She’s from the upper class of the town, married with no kids. But even with all her kindness, Joseph’s first response is to insult her. He misjudges her, he can’t even imagine how he misjudged part of her life.
But Joseph gets drawn to her and apologizes for his behavior. As the film evolves, we are introduced to other characters that give us brief but enough insights of these main characters’ past and present. We learn of Joseph’s violent genes, we learn about the not so perfect middle class married life of Hanna. Meanwhile, Joseph comes to Hanna for some kind of support until Hanna’s husband James discovers and frightens her so much that she drowns herself in drink because she knows what’s coming. And it’s brutal, so brutal.
I personally love this storytelling, from what separates Joseph and Hanna, to the questions about ‘religious’ forgiveness, to the little details given periodically that gradually tells who these people are made of. To me, it all comes to this tremendous heartbreaking scene when Joseph discovers what Hannah has done to her husband and when she finally breaks apart as she confesses to what she had to put up with him, what she suffered; she was so abused to the point she couldn’t even have children. There’s this moment when she says desperately, ‘I wanted to have babies, I just wanted to be a mom’. The whole sequence stayed in my mind for the rest of the film. I couldn’t actually cope with it, I don’t know how I managed to watch the rest of the film, I could barely see it, with the tears rolling down my face. Here’s Hanna, the most caring woman you could possibly meet, she just wanted to be a mom, but instead for some unknown forces, some pretty unfair ones, ends in shit. Why? Can the fucking religion answer to that?
‘All I wanted is to have babies and be a mommy’, she said. Here it is, the famous sentence, the one so many use to diminish women. I don’t understand why people forget the basic idea of someone having a choice to do anything in life and one of those choices can be of being a mom, of being a dad, either full time or not, either single or not.
This film is about hiding in some forms of religion or in alcoholism, it’s about violence, the abusers and the abused, it’s about using religion as an excuse. To me, it comes down to what I was saying at the beginning. You know someone, you think you understand him, you know him well enough and then they become something else. It’s part of the human nature and every day we are risking something and taking a chance on someone. It can be damn dramatic. I hate that things are destined to be a certain way, I hate it.
Paddy Considine did a really competent work, the script being the fundamental push and obviously a huge stand out to the bravery of Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan. These are the kind of performances you genuinely admire. The film is worth it every minute, no matter how you cannot stop crying afterwards.