The Levelling review – a tremendous debut from Hope Dickson Leach

An estranged young woman returns to her flooded Somerset home in this haunting family drama

The flat, flooded plains of Somerset provide fertile soil for writer/director Hope Dickson Leach in this remarkably powerful tale of blighted farms and fractured families. Fulfilling the promise of such acclaimed shorts as The Dawn Chorus and Morning Echo, her quietly overwhelming feature debut addresses grand upheavals (personal, regional, economic) in deceptively understated and fiercely truthful fashion. Focusing on an estranged daughter’s return to her low-lying Levels home in the wake of a family tragedy, Dickson Leach conjures a postdiluvian rural Britain in which secrets, like bodies, refuse to stay buried. The director may cite the Dardenne brothers, Bruno Dumont and Kelly Reichardt as key influences, but it’s the robust heft of Andrew Kötting’s This Filthy Earth that sprang to mind as I waded into this emotional field a second time,
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