Directed by: #TomLeatherbarrow
Written by: #TomLeatherbarrow
Dealing with mental health problems isn’t an easy process. For a start, it’s not an easy thing to talk about to anyone. When you finally can, it’s hard to get a diagnosis, and even harder to get any help - with year-long waiting lists to see professionals not uncommon. That’s why it’s so important for films like Tom Leatherbarrow’s After the Sea – a 15-minute long introspective which deals with the ever-lasting effects of suicide – to raise awareness of these issues and tackle them in a direct and frank manner. But does the film achieve this?
In a word, yes; absolutely! So much so, the film has been used to spearhead a series of workshops by bereavement support charity, Cruse. It’s hard to imagine a more arduous or profoundly affecting subject matter than the loss of one’s best friend as the basis of your directional debut. But it’s one Leatherbarrow felt needed to be told: describing the movie as ‘...an outpouring of every emotion I had felt in the last few months’, and as a ‘...raw, unaltered piece of myself.’ You can feel that passion in every aspect of his film.
The setup is a simple one: two ex-lovers – Alice (Lauren Cato) and Joe (Elliot James Langridge) – reunite in their sleepy seaside hometown after the suicide of their mutual best friend. What follows is a 15-minute long conversation in which our leads must confront their grief and face up to the past before they can embrace a brighter future. While this is pretty much a no-frills affair, it’s this simplicity that allows the movie’s better qualities to breathe. Predominantly, it’s the outstanding performances by Langridge and Cato, and Leatherbarrow’s superb writing and direction that holds this film together.
Adding much-needed depth and flavour, though, is Thomas Rosser’s superbly understated cinematography. The bleakness of Britains windy coastal towns infuses well with the subject matter found herein, and Rosser captures and displays it flawlessly. But it’s wholly uplifting to see that bleakness eventually give way to bright sunshine towards the end of the film. As if symbolic of our couple’s leaving behind the past and moving onto a brighter future. Simply put, it’s beautiful, layered and intelligent. The only problem I found here was that the film seemed to be out-of-sync. But that could have been down to my internet.
It’s nice to leave a movie with such a cold, sombre and melancholic tone feeling warmer than when you first enter its world. Even if the ending was perhaps a little saccharine for my taste, and that’s probably After the Sea’s greatest takeaway: no matter how terrible things seem at the moment, the future can still be whatever you want it to be. After the Sea releases to the public on Sunday the 3rd of May. And It’s more than worthy of your time.