VOD film review: Justine
Ivan | On 06, Mar 2021
Director: Jamie Patterson
Cast: Sophie Reid, Steve Oram, Tallulah Haddon
Watch Justine online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema
Tucked director Jamie Patterson and Hinterland writer Jeff Murphy team up for this thoughtful story about a blossoming relationship between two young women in Brighton. But while that might sound like a familiar starting point for a romantic drama, Justine balances scenes of of intimacy and affection with a surprising and poignant study of addiction.
Justine (Tallulah Haddon), we soon learn, is battling alcoholism, and the film’s structure is as much driven by her cyclical experience of trying to rehabilitate and move on with her life and relapsing. There’s a raw honesty to that approach that makes for a bracing and poignant watch; Patterson doesn’t flinch from the costs and consequences of addiction, both for the sufferer and the people around them. Murphy’s script also understands how Justine’s feelings of loneliness can find comfort in her relationship with Rachel (Sophie Reid) as much as in a bottle – a volatile nuance that recalls Mae Martin’s remarkable TV show Feel Good.
There’s a refreshing quality in the way that the film portrays its central lesbian relationship without their love itself presenting an obstacle to overcome; Reid and Haddon’s chemistry is allowed to exist and almost be a matter-of-fact sideshow to the exploration of sobriety and dependency. The dialogue can sometimes stray into unsubtle territory and the soundtrack is occasionally intrusive, but with strong support from Sian Reese-Williams as Justine’s support worker and Steve Oram as her doctor, the result is a thoughtful and probing exploration of a young woman struggling to stay afloat.