Finally considered old enough to be away from home by her parents, 18 year old Ruth has come to this deserted caravan site in Cornwall's winter to get a job and be with her long term boyfriend Tom. So we enter this dark, middle world of youth turning adult; she is between two chapters of her life, as the caravan site is between seasons. Being unsure of herself, she finds a friend in Jade, a fellow worker, who offers her help and a makeover, painting her bitten nails red...but is there more going on here than we see at first?
This is writer-director Claire Oakley's first feature film, for which she has got all-round good reviews: "She has taken the template of arthouse Brit realism and audaciously spiked it with some genre thrills, as if Ken Loach collaborated with Brian De Palma or Nicolas Roeg" – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian. "Claire Oakley's assured debut is all about liminal spaces, both physical and mental, the places and feelings that hang eerily between the concrete and the comforting....Oakley keeps things taut as time seems to slip sideways for Ruth, things half remembered or imagined bright, like those nails, in her memory. There's nothing liminal about Oakley's talents, she has firmly arrived" – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film. [In case you, like me, don’t know what 'liminal' means, the Google definition is – "occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold"!]
"With cinematographer Nick Cooke, Oakley finds the bracingly different aspects of the Cornish landscape: ominous in the darkness, wild in the sunshine and menacing in the cold, as distant sea spray mixes with the cloud cover. It’s a clever and expertly made movie; Oakley luxuriates in its winter chill" – Peter Bradshaw again.
A coming-of-age movie, then, but one wrapped up in a spooky seaside thriller which results in a stylish psychological drama. Given Molly Windsor had gone down well at the Festival, we couldn't resist having 'Make Up' here.
If all that isn't enough, this is another Triple F-rated movie (female director, writer and star). What more can we ask for?
“ This magnificently unsettling British debut is a serious calling card for writer-director Claire Oakley.”
“Revealing a new filmmaker with a truly fresh perspective and an exciting future ahead.”
“Make Up is a lean, sensory, genre-defying delight, and a welcome deep dive into the painted face of the teenage female psyche.”
“An early contender for the best British film of the year.”