The End We Start From

Reviewed by Vaughan Ames

Our final film of the year promised great things; the reviews had all been very positive with the star, Jodie Comer, coming in for praise all round. So… what was it like?

Jodie Comer plays the 'Woman' – none of the characters were given names – who gives birth just as the rains finally flood London. She and her partner (Joel Fry) are forced to take the new baby – they do name him, Zeb – and flee to her in-law's house in the country, who, conveniently, have been storing food for some time so they are all safe for the time being at least.

The plot is moved on episodically, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps about what has happened meantime; so, for instance, all we are shown is a couple of shots of the larder with the bottles and tins disappearing so we can see that time has moved on, food is now getting short. Personally, I liked this effect, though some found it hard to follow at times.

The film follows the woman, first with her partner, then alone with Zeb in a refuge, then, with a new friend she has made there, moving across country to a long-standing commune on an island, inhabited by a group of people who do not care what is happening elsewhere – they are happy in their little world. 'Woman', however is not. She continues to want to find her husband and go home to London. As the film nears the end, the news is that the flood is finally receding, and the country is recovering…

The feel of the film was gripping and intense; the director Mahalia Belo chose to make the population get more and more violent as the food stocks diminished, which seems realistic to me, much as has happened in the war-torn Gaza strip. Any attempts to leave the refuge were seen as dangerous. As I said, I liked the gaps in the plot so that much of this fear was left up to us to insert, though some felt it was all unrealistic.

There were certainly some inconsistencies in the film – why did they run out of food, but not petrol for instance – and this spoiled the film for some of the audience. Personally, and for the majority of us, this was not the case.

Unlike most Hollywood films, made by men, the film concentrated on the day-to-day existence problems for the women and children and, although even I thought it a bit romanticised, it had me in its grip. And the reviewers were right about Jodie Comer – she was great!