Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face ...
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Somerset, October 2014. When Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) receives a call telling her that her younger brother Harry (Joe Blakemore) is dead, she must return to her family farm and face the man she hasn't spoken to in years: her father Aubrey (David Troughton). She is shocked to discover her home changed forever by the devastating floods that destroyed the area six months earlier, and Aubrey a tormented shadow of his former self. As she learns what has been going on in her long absence she and her father forge a new understanding, but can it withstand the troubles that they face on the ravaged farm as well as the truth of what drove Harry to take his own life?
Immediately before going to see "The Levelling" at the 2016 London Film Festival, I had watched on television "Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages", in which the actress travels around the UK visiting villages and glorying in their thatched cottages, cream teas and lovable eccentricities (Morris dancers, etc). "The Levelling" shows the other side of the rural coin...
'Clover' would be a good name for a cow, but dairy farmer Aubrey instead lumbered his unfortunate daughter with the name. As a young adult, Clover leaves the farm to study animal medicine, but just before her final examinations she is forced to return to deal with her brother Harry's suicide, Aubrey's simmering resentment, the farm's precarious financial position and the aftermath of devastating floods.
As Clover, Ellie Kendrick (probably best known for "Game of Thrones") delivers a variable performance: Clover's frustration with Aubrey's refusal to take her seriously is well-essayed, but the device of hiccoughing back the first word of a sentence in order to show bewilderment ("What - what do you mean?") grows old very quickly and at times Clover comes across as little more than a stroppy teenager instead of a capable, educated woman. As Aubrey, David Troughton does his best with the kind of antagonistic character he often seems to play, and Jack Holden is perfectly competent in the film's only other major role, that of Harry's friend James. The ultimate revelation of why Harry committed suicide is unlikely to surprise any viewer, and it is all very bleak - both the characters' situation, and the grey and damp farm in which they live. But the film is atmospheric, and if it turns up on television I might watch it again.
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