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Black Medicine Film Review

★★★★ Stars

Written and directed by: #ColumEastwood

A woman (right hand side of image) dressed in scrubs holds her head back with her eyes closed, grasping onto a scalpel in frame.

“Black Medicine follows a black-market doctor who faces a stark choice when her ruthless employers ask her to do something beyond even her skewed moral compass.”

Black Medicine is a thriller with a beautifully complex plot when you look deeper into each character’s motives and struggles. The story follows Jo (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) who has turned to using her medical knowledge under the radar as black-market doctor. The death of her daughter caused her to lose her sense of stability due to the fact that she feels responsible, which led to her being struck off. Through her work patching up gangsters, she is brought to Bernadette (Orla Brady) who is ultimately searching for doctors to work off record to help save her daughter, Lucy, through an organ transplant – but as Jo leaves the wealthy home, a young girl (Amybeth McNulty) hides away in her car to escape the group’s captive grasp. Over the course of the film, as Jo is then directly recruited to assist in the surgery, she begins to piece together the true worth of her stowaway and why Bernadette is beyond desperate to get the girl back.

Writer and director Colum Eastwood states Black Medicine is a film about grief; one woman running away from it and is afraid to face it, against another woman so afraid that she will do anything, even the most horrific of things, to avoid it. The intertwining perspective of these characters is gracefully written and portrayed. Because of the sharp contrast in reactions to grief, you cannot predict anyone’s next move which adds great suspense, as well as the fact that you are ethically hanging in the balance throughout the film’s duration. It is easy to understand both of these troubled characters, however terrifying one of their decisions might be, but there is no doubt that conflict within yourself will set in at least half way through the unfolding events. The story lays itself out the entire way through the film, meaning that you are piecing together a jigsaw of information from start to finish. I adore that type of approach; it can feel a little slow at times but overall it doesn’t heavily impact the way one can view the plot by the end of the film – it all just adds to the inner conflict viewers like myself may experience as they are fed more information and transferable emotion within every scene.

The striking acting talent assists the story in moving along smoothly. Not only are the occurring events written with good focus, the acting of honestly all the cast members is exquisite. Their on screen relationships with one another hold sincerity and their accurate chemistry levels up the suspenseful atmosphere. In particular, I was immediately drawn to Antonia Campbell-Hughes who plays Jo. The amount of emotional turmoil she can show just from her body movements and through her eyes is impeccable. Jo’s stance grows over time as she finds her footing and discovers her own motives within the story and Campbell-Hughes shines a blinding light on this aspect. It is obvious that she has a wonderful understanding of the character because her growth in this way can be seen physically, and even verbally in regards to how she begins to speak to other individuals. Simply incredible work.

I want to give a nod to James Everett (composer) as well because… wow. What a score! It builds the most perfect ambience from the very beginning and is superbly suited to the film’s thriller content. A brilliant composer can make a film even more immersive of course, and Everett definitely brought the magic here.

Black Medicine presents a spectacular production, something so polished you would never know that the project was built on a low budget. Set and filmed in Belfast, the film brings inspiration and amazement to me as everything is close to home; I am so happy to have had the opportunity to see such talent, dedication and passion right on my doorstep.



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