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Lapwing Film Review

★★★★★ Stars

Directed by: #PhilipStevens

Written by: #LauraTurner


A woman stands with her back to the camera, the wind from where she is standing on the beach gently blowing her hair and dress to one side of her body. The waves are beginning to crash onto the sand as the tide flows in underneath her feet. A landscape swallowed by blue and differing shades of the colour.

“England 1555. An isolated group of salt farmers arrange illegal passage to Europe for an Indian Gypsy family in hiding. But a love affair between Patience, a mute English girl, and Rumi, the son of the Egyptians, threatens to destroy both communities.”

Lapwings are any of various ground-nesting birds akin to plovers and dotterels. They are noted for their slow, irregular wingbeats in flight and a shrill, wailing cry; they are associated with fierce protection, the health and growth of land and flock, and the power of communication...

Lapwing is an intense watch even for those who aren’t necessarily pushed to such limits when observing grittier content. As an audience member, you join these characters unprepared for the mentally exhausting journey set in 16th century England - the placard emerging at the end of this trek reading something along the lines of ‘actions may speak louder than words.’

There are no weak points when it comes to acting in this film. All members of the cast showcase jaw-dropping talent; I’m wary about using the word ‘perfect’ here but it’s somewhat rare to find a cast in its entirety that can mesmerise viewers as much as Lapwing has proved it can. The overall concept of Lapwing is one of heavy subject, if you were to just explain it briefly to someone you would create a ripple effect of sorrow painted across each listener’s face. However, without the power behind the acting, watching the events unravel for an hour and a half might not have created the same effect, showing the importance of finding the right people to fit these roles. Without the strength of emotional potency and the cast’s attention to detail in their roles, I feel like reactions to the events would fall flat into a pit of distress and not much more. It would ultimately prevent the audience from being able to understand where they fit into the empathetic connection (or apathetic, depending on which character you focus on) attached to the twisted and torn individuals of the story.

The performances are complex and spectacular; overwhelming to the point that it makes watching such brutal scenes almost beautiful in its own form. In particular, Hannah Douglas (Patience) and Emmett J. Scanlan (David,) both individually and working together in scenes, left me quite speechless with their performances and I have felt stunned for a few days now. I seem to only be able to speak in a long stream of positive adjectives when discussing them.

Directly joining the conversation surrounding acting talent, it is obvious that director Philip Stevens was compatible with the cast in order to successfully present these characters in their best light, as well as deeply understanding the writing by Laura Turner and how the intensity of the script should be translated onscreen from a directorial perspective. All of these main elements of Lapwing flow together wonderfully, instinctively intertwining and helping the project to grow from its roots - just like that of a lapwing and its early symbolic meaning that it invokes the fertility, the rains and the health of flocks. Core elements of this nature in film carry themselves in the same way.

Music by Lee Gretton creates a brilliant ambience from start to finish that runs alongside the depth of the story with a steady pace. Thanks to its strong beats and drawn out chords, the music is filled with the same mixture of fear, confusion, curiosity and sadness that the characters are wrapped up in throughout the time viewers spend with them. Whereas, the cinematography (Stewart MacGregor) creates a balanced contrast to both of these aspects of Lapwing; the wide landscapes and differing close-up shots are captured with simple precision, enhancing the immaculate vehemence that the rest of the film radiates.

Does Lapwing have a very direct meaning or purpose to conclude with for an audience to immediately resonate with? I’m not sure it does. Lapwing allows you to interpret your own takeaway from the plot and its closing event instead. If you would like to immerse yourself in total cinematic talent then it is a great choice, but if you’re looking for something that brings you a sense of peace or motivation for your day through a significant meaning, then maybe continue your search and save this for another watching experience.

See Lapwing in select cinemas and on demand from 26 November 2021.



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