Directed by David Blair this intense and grainy drama steps away from linear narrative to allow flashbacks interspersed with the present to tell the gripping tale of the meeting of two disillusioned souls, one struggling for survival the other past caring, Ria (Juno Temple) and Joseph ( Timothy Spall). Both Spall and Temple turn in excellent and troubled performances but strong support comes from Matt Ryan as the malevolent Dex, Ria’s sometime boyfriend and manipulator.
Spall lends the lonely and distraught Joseph, who has been unable to reconcile himself after his wife’s recent death, a sense of pathos. His plight becomes even more desperate as Ria takes a surprising shine to him and pursues him in a vain attempt to try to cheer him up and shake him out of his torpor.
Ria is not without her own problems however as she is involved in a deeply abusive relationship with Dex who not only controls her through violence but also manages to manipulate her close friend through drugs. Trying to escape his controlling ways Ria steals his drugs and his money as a means of escaping him but instead of this it merely sets him on a trail of vengeance and even more violence.
Her attempted escape takes her to Blackpool which is where she meets Joseph and the unlikely couple take up on a convoluted and misguided attempt to try to rescue each other with little success. In fact their union does little more than exacerbate an already bad situation.
Away is certainly a bleak film but there is an underlying sense of hope which prevails in even its darkest moments and a sense that one or both of the two central protagonists is going to survive and find some happiness or resolve in their future. Blair coaxes stellar performances from his cast and the bleakness of the Blackpool seafront in the harsh winter months contributes to the sense of desolate desperation. Despite this feeling of impending doom the film does have its occasional lighter moments and they are handled as skilfully as the dark ones.
An impressive film with outstanding performances Away is a worthwhile addition to this year’s film festival.

Away is showing at The Odeon on Wednesday 22nd June at 20.45 and on Saturday 25th at 15.20

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