A year after the hit-and-run death of his teenage son, Tom Carver (Aidan Gillen) is crippled by grief. A talented photographer, his marriage to Rachel (Amanda Mealing) disintegrated in the wake of the tragedy and he now ekes out a living as a school photographer.

Drinking and partying too much with sleazy local journalist mate Ed (Jonathan Slinger), Tom wallows in his depression, is sleep walking towards a breakdown. Befriending the younger, bullied brother of a teen recently stabbed to death in a gang fight, Tom takes the boy under his wing, offering a shoulder to cry on and nurturing an interest in photography.

When an everyday street collision with swaggering young thug Carl (Sonny Green) leads to a feud with a local street gang, Tom finds himself the victim of a campaign of intimidation and terror that quickly escalates into a shocking act of violence. Pushed too far, Tom is a ticking timebomb of repressed rage, driven by guilt, grief and depression to plot and execute a devastating act of revenge…

A gritty, grimily realistic vision of North London and one man’s descent into his own personal Hell, Still is a bleak, uncompromising portrait of grief and violence with a fantastic, raw central performance from Aidan Gillen. His Tom is defined by frustration; his shortcomings as an artist, his failure as a father and a husband, seething with a barely contained rage at the world around him and consumed by self-loathing, set on a path of self-destruction and lashing out at the ex-wife concerned for his welfare in one devastating scene screaming at her “You’re not a mother anymore.”

It’s an almost casually callous moment, perhaps the most brutal act in the film, and neatly encapsulates the bitterness and pain of a marriage soured, torn apart by selfish, all-encompassing grief and Gillen, so good at playing seductive devils, manages to make Tom sympathetic without ever being likable. As the campaign against him escalates from street encounters to doorbells rung in the middle of the night to dismembered cats left on his doorstep, terrifying the younger, sophisticated girlfriend (Elodie Yung) who in some ways represents Tom’s last chance at salvation, Gillen’s Tom remains passive, refuses to contact the police or seek help. He wants to be punished, needs to be punished, feels he deserves to suffer. It’s an intense, riveting performance that carries the film and Gillen is ably supported by Mealing and by young rapper Green as the vicious, feral Carl. If there’s a weak link in the film, it’s Jonathan Slinger’s Ed who feels superfluous, his night stalking investigations of Carl and his cronies and encounters with the grieving mother (Kate Ashfield) of a gang victim feel like experiences Tom should be having.

While it’s a little predictable and its final revelations pretty obvious, Still still manages to pack an emotional punch and there’s a measured understatement to the kids’ campaign against Gillen and his girlfriend and the handling of the violence, particularly a rape, is refreshingly non-exploitative, focusing on the effects and aftermath rather than the act. Dark, downbeat and dirty, Still is an intense, slow-burning character study of a man consumed by grief, despair and rage.

Movie Review: Still
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

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