Directed by: #OliviaMaiden
In everyday parlance, Sophie’s Choice is a difficult situation in which a person must choose between two equally deserving alternatives. The movies have a reference point in the 1982 tearjerker starring Meryl Streep; the title character was forced to choose which of her children lived by a Nazi officer at Auschwitz.
Bea Before Me follows roughly the same trajectory and makes a pretty decent fist of it. Life seems to have treated James (Adam J. Morgan) kindly; a successful author with a lovely home in the countryside. His wife Emily (Samantha Badman) is a respected doctor and they have two bright daughters, Bea (Olivia Maiden) and Chloe (Amy Borbone). However, their idyllic life is shattered when Michael (Rock Salt) armed with a pistol confronts James in their home. He has taken Bea hostage and delivers a shocking ultimatum; James must kill his wife Emily or else Michael will kill daughter Bea.
Bea Before Me captures a range of emotions including revenge and atonement, as younger daughter Chloe suspects something is seriously wrong; despite James’ attempts to protect her from the emotional fall out that will inevitably follow. It is one of those ‘what would you do?’ moments and we naturally run through the scenarios and escape routes; assuming anyone could think clearly under those circumstances? One sequence illustrates the mental torture James suffered in reaching a decision. Pacing his study: what would the repercussions be for the family; how would his daughters cope, could he criminally liable? All conveyed without the need for dialogue as the audience can reasonably surmise his thought process.
There’s a surprisingly clever sting in the tail as the final frames of the movie approach; gun shots ring out from the Evans house, but who if anyone was shot, killed or wounded? The fade out leaves a tantalising quandary for the viewer; but thankfully director Olivia Maiden delivers sufficient narrative for a reasonable conclusion to be drawn. This is sharp film making using visual techniques to provide a backstory for the characters. Well placed dialogue also allows the viewer to store basic facts making for a much smoother narrative. This is an accomplished piece of work packing an extraordinary amount of detail to create a well-rounded story.