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Changing Tides

average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Apr 30, 2024

Film Reviews
Changing Tides
Directed by:
Kathryn Georghiou
Written by:
Kathryn Georghiou
Rowe David McClelland, Natasha Cottriall, Marion Campbell-Rogers

Kathryn Georghiou’s Changing Tides is a Loach-ian short drama which tackles the challenging and emotional realities of alcoholism and isolation. Inspired by events in the director’s life, it is a moving film, if a little aimless and lacking in commentary in lieu of sentiment.


Bea (Natasha Cottriall) is a struggling social worker who gets a new assignment in the centre of Blackpool. She is to provide care for Aiden (Rowe David McClelland), an older man who is ungrateful for her presence in his small and run-down home. As she perseveres in her work, Aiden’s coldness towards her begins to abate, and the pair develop a bond as they take a journey around the town. But later meetings reveal a tragic past and intolerable demon that hangs over Aiden, leaving Bea to search for the real person underneath.


At the tragic heart of Changing Tides is the genuine experience of the director with a family-member’s alcoholism, and it stands as a fascinating examination of the everyday realities, and longer-term consequences of the disease. Aiden’s attitude towards Bea ricochets throughout the film from suspicion, anger, kindness, consideration and calmness. His actions are intentionally inconsistent, lucid to confused and back again, to demonstrate that factors beyond his own control are influencing and overpowering his behaviour. It is a manifestation of the rollercoaster that Georghiou speaks of when living with an alcoholic, where promises can be made and broken, and kindness can break through obscuring difficulty.


On the personal level it succeeds. Aiden and Bea feel like solar opposites and Aiden’s cruelty towards her in the early stages of the film establishes the reasons for his loneliness. But the slow build as they grow closer means that their eventual friendship is convincing, in no small part due to the resilience that is sprinkled throughout Natasha Cottriall’s performance. Yet there is a lack of wider political commentary throughout the film, an omission that feels glaring given the cost-of-living crisis crippling the country, and creating untold numbers of Aidens and Beas every day. Beyond allusions to Bea’s workload and financial situation, the film largely eschews addressing this – and given the sad state that Aiden lives in, it feels like there is untouched potential that would add to the film’s power and purpose. Whilst the relationship between Aiden and Bea is the heart, there is still space for the head.


The aforementioned performance by Natasha Cottriall is a real strength of the film, bringing out Bea’s patience and determination to make the most of her situation. Rowe David McClelland gives a heartbreaking turn as Aiden. Slobbish and unkempt, the old man is a sad sight – and acts up to it for much of the film too. His aggressiveness and unpleasant attitude towards Bea (and seemingly most people) is crucial in explaining how he came to be abandoned at his darkest hour. His building trust and redemption is earned thanks to the layered performance that demonstrates a humour from early on, that Bea eventually clings on to in order to win his trust. Yet the imperfect behaviour of the alcoholic means his attitude change is not linear, and hammers home the tragedy of the disease.


Changing Tides is therefore a worthy and touching film that only falls down for what else it could have been more than what it results as. As the story of two very different people navigating one’s illness, it is moving and personable. It does negate sufficient analysis of societal and political factors that feel relevant and necessary and suffers for this, but not enough to devalue its worth as a drama.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film
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