The Incident, 2015.
Directed by Jane Linfoot.
Starring Ruta Gedmintas, Tom Hughes and Tasha Connor.
A successful young couple have their lives shattered when they each encounter the same teenage prostitute. The husband meets her when buying pizzas on the way home from work and money changes hands. The wife wakes up one night to find the girl has broken into their home and is stood at the foot of her bed. The couple can’t forget their experiences, nor can they talk about them to each other. But it’s the husband’s encounter that puts their marriage in danger.
It’s a dramatic enough title and The Incident’s storyline leads you to expect a hostage thriller, perhaps even a horror. But you’re not in for anything of the sort. Because this is a film with a liking for red herrings: you expect something to happen at any moment, that people’s paths are going to cross. They don’t – and the same happens with the film as a whole. The best you get is the scene with teenage girl standing at the end of the wife’s bed. And when the woman wakes up, she’s scared witless, while the girl just runs away. That’s meant to be the climax.
The film is on the proverbial road to nowhere, even though Joe’s (Tom Hughes) encounter with Lily (Tasha Connor) at the start promises something more. He stops off at a scruffy pizza shop and seediness is mixed with tension in a scene that is only going to develop one way. But after that it all goes downhill, with the potential for a stalker story or one about guilt thrown out of the window. And the red herrings get going with a vengeance. The biggest of the lot is when Lily is on the platform at the train station, asking people for money. She approaches Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas) – unbeknown to her also Joe’s wife – who refuses, yet she never goes further down the platform because she’s ushered away by a member of staff. If she had, she would have run into Joe himself. Perhaps that would have livened things up.
It attempts something of a social conscience, contrasting the lifestyles of Lily and the couple. Living with her boyfriend, the teenager is pestered by his mates for the money she’s earned, often in the public toilets. Against that, Joe and Annabel’s house comes straight out of a Kelly Hoppen catalogue, so immaculate that it’s ready for a visit from Phil and Kirstie. It does, however, reflect the cool Annabel, all loose fitting clothes and neutral tones. Her characters isn’t completely colourless, though, as she accepts an invitation from Victim Support to meet Lily after her arrest. It’s intended to help her recover from the break-in and, once again, our appetite is whetted for something to actually happen. But it doesn’t do much to help her – although she does finally make that connection between Lily and her husband.
The characters are so underwritten that the cast have precious little to work with. As Lily, Tasha Connor spends much of her time washing herself in public toilets after encounters with her punters. And she has little more to do than that. As for Tom Hughes as Joe, you start off thinking he’s just a Sam Claflin lookalike, but you can’t escape the thought that you’ve seen him before. It’s only afterwards that you realise he was Prince Albert in TV’s Victoria. Ruta Gedmintas’ Annabel is more developed and makes a decent job of portraying the hitherto confident woman who has her life permanently changed in an instant.
If the film has one redeeming feature, it’s Pau Castejon’s photography, which has a searching eye when it comes to the character’s faces and expressions. There are moments when he takes too long to get to the point, but he also creates some interesting and atmospheric shots, such as looking at Lily through the grimy window of the pizza shop.
As Jane Linfoot’s feature film debut – she’s made shorts up until now – The Incident falls well short of its potential. It has all the ingredients for an interesting psychological drama, but never gets anywhere close, because of its under-developed characters, emotional sterility and tendency to keep the audience at arm’s length. A film that doesn’t do much, doesn’t say much – and isn’t up to much.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★