dir Daniel Fitzsimmons
scr Neil Atkinson, Daniel Fitzsimmons
prd Neil Atkinson, Jim Fitzsimmons, Jennifer Handorf
with Rupert Graves, Ellie Kendrick, Leanne Best, Joe Macaulay, Pollyanna McIntosh, Daniel Brocklebank, Chiara D'Anna, Ian Hart
release US Feb.16 bsfff,
UK 23.Feb.18
16/UK 1h28
Mission to the stars: Kendrick and Graves

brocklebank danna hart
east end film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Native There's a terrific concept behind this low-key British sci-fi thriller, and it's just about enough to sustain the interest as the filmmakers stretch out their rather thin plot. But there's little momentum to the story, characters are too muted to properly come to life, and the overall effect is more numbing than thrilling. Still, there are elements genre fans will love, especially as the premise questions the nature of humanity.

On a deep-space mission, Cane and Eva (Graves and Kendrick) alternate guiding their ship to a planet that holds the potential to relaunch their dying civilisation. They were selected for the job due to telepathic connections with partners back home: Cane's wife Awan (Best) and Eva's brother Seth (Macaulay). But Cane is starting to question his purpose, and then becomes disruptive when his connection to Awan is severed. Eva struggles to keep him under control as he spirals increasingly off-mission, but eventually she also begins to question everything she's always been so sure about.

Director-cowriter Fitzsimmons keeps the atmosphere moody, letting the story progress almost silently. Effects are subtle and clever, although sets and costumes are corny. And with so little scope for action, or even proper interaction, the film sometimes feels rather dull. This approach limits the amount of depth he can inject into the characters or their relationships. So the entire movie becomes somewhat sketchy and elusive, even as it's intriguing to see how events develop and twist along the way.

Graves and Kendrick are the only actors who get a chance to flesh out their characters, and both add some raw emotion beneath their robotic exteriors. The frustrating thing is that they don't get more opportunity to interact, merely brushing past each other while sometimes pondering the rather tangential ways they are connected. Of the remaining cast members, only D'Anna gets to express anything like a personality in her brief but very pointed appearance.

As the plot develops, there are some clever wrinkles that draw on time-honoured science-fiction themes, and there are also some subtle issues raised by the way the events play out. But feels like a short stretched to feature length, as there's simply not enough material here to fill 88 minutes. Still, it's an admirable achievement that Fitzsimmons has made such a striking film on what is clearly a very low budget. It will be interesting to see if he can come up with a more robust script that builds on the promise of this feature debut.

cert 15 themes, violence 4.Dec.17

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Native Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall