VOD film review: Still
Ivan Radford | On 08, May 2015
Director: Simon Blake
Cast: Aidan Gillen, Amanda Mealing, Elodie Yung, Jonathan Slinger
Watch Still online in the UK: Rakuten TV / TalkTalk TV / Google Play / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / Film4od / Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk
Aidan Gillen has been a highlight of the small screen of late, thanks to his scene-stealing turn as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. It’s a treat, then, to see him take centre stage in Still. After a haunting turn in Hammer’s Wake Wood, this indie drama-cum-thriller serves as a showcase for another stellar performance.
Gillen has always excelled at saying lots while doing little – a smirk here, a glance there – so it’s fitting that he should play a photographer, Tom Carver, a quiet man who spends his days shying away from the world in his living room. The state of his home tells us everything we need to know, dotted with photos of his son, who died a year ago. While he withdraws into himself, his grief is interrupted only by visits from a friend helping him to find out what happened, his ex-wife and his new, younger girlfriend.
“How many times are you going to let them piss on you before you realise you’re wet?” he’s berated, as photos of the local, rough youths build a case for a gang-related murder. An accidental encounter with one in the street soon sees them become more directly involved in his life, as a feud slowly brews.
Scenes of the teens shouting through his letterbox are effectively claustrophobic, but the escalating violence and amateur sleuthing never quite gel with the anguished study of loss that unfolds behind closed doors. Scenes of driving around snapping candid pictures – accompanied by jazz – add to the brooding noir atmosphere, but Simon Blake’s script never quite decides whether to be pure thriller or drama. Well-acted, hostile exchanges with Mealing’s former partner – “You’re not a mother anymore!” – could almost be from a different movie.
The writer-director, though, captures London with a brilliantly moody eye, steeping the screen in red, as if in a dark room, watching negatives being processed. His final, horrific act ensures that his subjects develop beyond mere black and white, before leaving his lens to rest on Gillen’s face. It’s a portrait that becomes more revealing the more you look at it. Like it’s lead actor, this uneven, at times affecting, drama is best when allowed to be still.