Updated: Nov 5, 2018
Directed by: #GuySoulsby
Written by: #GuySoulsby
It is remarkable how often you find yourself saying, when reviewing features, that a specific concept may have worked better as a short film but it is even more surprising how increasingly often that the opposite applies to short films. Some ideas carry such weight, such potential and such impact that a shorter duration feels like a tease and in the case of writer/director Guy Soulsby’s incredibly shot God’s Kingdom; this is most certainly the case. The short sees Jack (Anthony Flanagan) and young Ella (Leah Rhodes) on the run but whom are they running from?
From the moment it begins, you feel the considered approach being taken with this story of cat and mouse, a story amplified by both the grave tone and the immaculate cinematography. The Yorkshire setting (shot in and around Bradford), layered in grey skies, harsh landscapes and quiet nature, constructs an absorbing backdrop to this tale and the great work of DOP Nicholas Bennett is put to excellent use by Soulsby in both writing and direction.
The fragmented structure of the story does initially disrupt the film’s flow as it kicks in towards the latter end but come the thematic denouement (which is brave in a number of respects) it is understandable why it was used, although the story as a whole begs for more to come. This initial survival story soon comes on to take a literal biblical meaning and the delivery of this is professional, with terrific special effects and gruellingly realistic make-up by Robbie Drake, Jo Turner and Paula J Maxwell. The score also anchors this point, with the soundtrack by Echoic Audio (Composers – David Johnston and Sam Foster; Sound Design – Owen Hemming-Brown) reminding me a little of the skin-prickling work of Colin Stetson in this year’s horror hit Hereditary.
Led by a weathered, stripped back and worn down lead in Flanagan’s Jack, this film rolls out slowly and carefully before taking a lot on in reaching its summation but the acting feels raw and real. Rogue One’s Alistair Petrie is bone chilling and offers a callous opposite to Flanagan’s righteous but desperate hero. Young Leah Rhodes gets very little to say but like other recent strong big screen youthful performances (see Logan and War For The Planet of the Apes) she excels in her part. There are also some nice supporting faces that turn up throughout, again though, had we have had a bit longer to work with, some of their parts may have been able to be fleshed out a little more.
To that end, more is certainly what I am hoping for here because God’s Kingdom was a gripping, fascinating watch and no doubt but a brief glimpse into the mind of a confident filmmaker. Wowing in a number of respects, the minor niggles that disrupt the pace or small intricacies of the overall story do not detract from a strong piece of work all round by this team. Blessed (if you’ll pardon the pun) with a brilliant crew, setting and a rather excellent cast, Soulsby has delivered a most interesting film and I can only pray we shall see more good things on the horizon.
Watch the full film below as part of the UK Film Channel...