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DVD Review: ‘Wreckers’

★★★☆☆
From first-time director D.R. Hood and starring the unquestionable talents of Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shaun Evans, Artificial Eye’s Wreckers (2011) clearly has a great deal going in its favour. Its Ely (Cambridgeshire) setting makes a refreshing change from the majority of London-centric releases, its cast is populated with rising British talent and its director has an eye for the atmospheric – yet unfortunately, the film is let down by a so-so plot and lack of narrative drive.

Hood’s first feature orbits around married couple David and Dawn (Cumberbatch, Foy) who move back to David’s childhood village to start a family – despite prior issues conceiving. However, a surprise visit from the David’s soldiering brother Nick (Evans) ignites long-hidden sibling rivalry between the pair, as well as exposing a web of lies and deceit embedded in the couple’s relationship.

As previously mentioned, the sinister atmosphere that Hood manages to sustain (almost) throughout should be fully commended. David and Nick’s sibling relationship is brimming with unspoken animosity and mistrust, with Dawn caught in the crossfire of two seemingly warring brothers. Yet Foy’s character clearly has her own agenda, and upon unearthing one of David’s poisonous secrets, sets about evening up the relationship via her own destructive methods.

The standout performer is perhaps Evans, who is thankfully able to imbue a sense of vulnerability and fragility into the otherwise boisterous character of Nick. His relationship with David is also in someway comparable to that of brothers Richard (Paddy Considine) and Anthony (Toby Kebbell) in Shane Meadows’ dark Midlands-set thriller Dead Man’s Shoes (2004). Both Anthony and Nick lack a great deal of social skills (for differing reasons), and are at times belittled by their older sibling.

However, whilst a tangible sense of unease is present throughout, its foundations gradually begin to disintegrate as the narrative draws to its conclusion. Nick’s PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is only really dealt with fleetingly, whilst Hood seems more concerned with who’s sleeping with who. Cumberbatch also seems slightly miscast as David, unable to really convince as the dominant brother – yet his very presence is an obvious selling point.

Criticisms aside, Wreckers is a promising first feature and the future looks promising for Hood. Alongside Joanna Hogg, the two British female directors seem keen to make films that aren’t focused upon life in the capital or gritty northern council estates, and credit is due for this divergence as well as their clear artistic sensibilities.

Daniel Green