Directed by: #BenReid
Short film review by: Brian Penn
The seven plot scenario looms large in the quest for originality and new angles in storytelling. However Ben Reid finds the key in this simple yet disturbing tale of lives fractured by circumstance. The use of Down Syndrome actors in film and TV has rightly gained prominence in recent years with some powerful performances and challenging storylines.
Innocence is a compact and beautifully balanced piece that benefits hugely from four interlocking central characters. Dylan (Tommy Jessup) lives in managed accommodation; but has something of an attitude, particularly where care assistant Michael (Richard Glover) is concerned. Dylan’s brother James (Laurence Spellman) also works at the home and is naturally protective of his brother. James has a chequered past and inevitably carries baggage with him. Michael never fails to remind him of the fact and the strings pulled to get him the job. When Michael’s lifeless body is found on the pavement a police investigation begins. DS Noble (Alice Lowe) leads the investigation, but has a task on her hands with two brothers as principal witnesses. Their recollection is sparse and limited but she gently teases out the truth.
It packs a compelling narrative into a limited time frame with strategic flashbacks to complement the plot as it reaches a gripping conclusion. However, there are nagging doubts about the film’s realism. One cannot doubt the sensitivities involved and the film was made in conjunction with the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association. One can only conclude that events are correctly portrayed, and this reviewer is hopelessly out of touch with the realities of life in the care sector.
The plot cleverly twists and turns as the truth is finally revealed. The cast perform admirably throughout, particularly Tommy Jessup who can seemingly switch moods as required by the script. Alice Lowe also delivers a likeable turn as the world weary copper trying to make sense of the most challenging case. Innocence may well be a relative term in the world at large, but this film provides contrasting definitions where nothing is as it appears to be. It’s a highly creditable effort to present the human condition in a new light; a big thumbs up to all concerned.