Reviewing a film is usually a job for a plum voiced journalist from an over sized Sunday Paper. However, this film needed reviewing through the eyes of someone who actually lives the core subject, that was projected onto screen, daily. That subject being Disability.
Disability has always been an oddity with filmmakers. From the early days of cinema to even present day, the motion picture industry frustrates with telling a story incorrectly, casting the film appalling or driving home the pity and inspirational motive rather than letting disability flourish for the talent that it truly is. However, thanks to determined filmmakers like Jane Gull and here, Ben Reid there is a real drive to make films that showcase both disabled talent and tell a damn good original story.
I was invited to BAFTA in London for an exclusive screening of ‘Innocence’. I was instantly feeling the creative charge and passion for change amongst the stars and team behind this highly original movie.
The film started in a lightly lit basement, with a murder, which set the scene beautifully for the mood of the film to come. A man was dead in mysterious circumstances, and the story was unpicked before our eyes.
Set in a care home, Dylan, played by Tommy Jessop has Down Syndrome. Dylan pushes the boundaries and tries the patience of care home staff. Dylan’s brother James, played by Laurence Spellmen, is a carer at the home. He is an alcoholic and was recently released from prison. James is battling his demons, trying to turn his life around and do his best for his brother.
Other characters included Mike, played by Richard Glover another carer assistant who likes things done his way. Sarah played by Beth Asher, Tommy’s girlfriend who is bullied by care staff. Sarah also has Down Syndrome. The duo charged with solving this web of deceit are Detective Noble, played by Alice Lowe and Constable Singh, Faraz Ayub. Noble and Singh work together to try and solve the murder.
All the characters are well rounded, with different facets to their personalities. Everyone had a dark side and this is exploited through the talented actors who took on these roles. It was a far cry from the stereo typical view of person with Down Syndrome who is always happy, does as they are told and unable to think for themselves.
Written and directed by Ben Reid, who’s own brother has Down Syndrome. Ben wrote this film to challenge opinions and push the limits. With Innocence, he succeeded this challenge. The film was hard to watch, gritty and full of raw emotion, which some, who had children with Down Syndrome, found too uncomfortable.
The short 20 minute snippet of film left us on a cliff edge, expecting and wanting more. It sparked debate within the room, of how far these characters limits had been pushed. A short film befitting the realms of ‘Silent Witness’ or ‘Line of Duty’, was full of excitement, treachery, emotion and drama. Leaving the viewer vulnerable to the situation that they had just witnessed.
Innocence was based in the hub of disability, but it was not the primary focus of the story. Duplicity, guilt, emotion and mystery were the meat to its bones, disability effectively being a base point for a thrilling story.
I loved Innocence, and really hope that it gets commissioned as I want to see more.