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Black Pond

Canadian Premiere
  • U.k.
  • 2011
  • 83 mins
  • HD
  • English

"A deeply eccentric, haunting marvel… funny, dreamily lyrical, armour-plated with eccentric self-confidence and also intensely English" — Peter Bradshaw, GUARDIAN

"One wishes there were more abnormal British films such as this" — Derek Malcolm, LONDON EVENING STANDARD

“Life is suffering. You are suffering because you are alive.” In this stunning pseudo-documentary portrait of a family confronted with the mysterious death of a stranger at their dinner table, BLACK POND marks the first film by Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe. A nominee for Outstanding Debut at this year’s BAFTAs, BLACK POND has emerged as one of the most unusual and evocative films in recent memory. With a story tinged with the twisted domestic banality of fellow Brit Ben Wheatley’s DOWN TERRACE and the deadpan quirk of a Wes Anderson movie, BLACK POND traces the downfall of a family already operating under a thin veneer of functionality. Told in documentary-style flashback, we learn that the Thompsons were arrested on suspicion of murder, and as a result have been irrevocably changed for the better (or so they insist to the camera.)

While walking his dog in the woods, Tom (Chris Langham) encounters the affably morose Blake (Colin Hurley), who he ends up inviting back to his comfortable home for tea. Tom and his wife Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) initially receive Blake’s elegiac observations with cautious interest, and tea turns into wine, a night swim, an overnight stay. Blake’s melancholic insights gradually expose the cracks in Tom and Sophie’s stagnant marriage, and provoke skepticism in their two combative daughters (Anna O’Grady, Helen Cripps). A lovelorn friend (played by co-director Sharpe), an inept psychotherapist (Simon Amstell), and a three-legged dog named Boy round out this first-rate cast of characters. Are the Thompsons a family of killers, like the headlines scream? Engaging with British tabloid culture and the classic reality-TV confession, this is an intimate portrait of a group of people searching for common ground on which to walk together — or bury each other. Dry British wit fuses with poignant insights into devotion and human decency, and makes for a subtly scathing critique of contemporary upper middle class life. Sharply written, with a series of tour de force performances, this awe-inspiring, irreverent film is elusive and devastating all at once. BLACK POND is most certainly one of the strongest cinematic debuts to come along in years, rich in original vision and poignantly funny insights, and quite unlike anything you’ve seen before.

— Lindsay Peters