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THE CARAVAN

March 16, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia


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One of Britain’s latest offerings in the realm of the so called ‘Kitchen Sink Dramas’, The Caravan, leaves us wanting just a little bit less and more room to digest. The drama is thick, the realism is aplenty and the angry young men are beginning their march into relative madness, as innate complexity engulfs their estranged familial situation.

In the façade of the end of Act I we begin to realise the emotive keys that drive the story forward to be throwaway spoken lines (as opposed to scripted lines) that feel earthy on account of the film’s genre, but for those who seek a higher film truth, it might be well-advised to take the dialogue with a pinch of salt. Those throwaway lines though, seem to work on the aesthetic, engaging us head on, with angry young men stereotypes, living in a caravan, a stipulation from the recently deceased Georgina Langley.

While she had succumbed to cancer in the beginning of the film, the will that she had left behind asks warring husband Keith and son James to restore the family caravan that has fallen into a state of disrepair, on a bleak Welsh coast caravan park. Two men are to spend one week together before further instructions are to be handed out, inciting a petty rivalry that will lead to a showdown, revealing a long buried secret.

Father and son take this roller coaster ride of ups and downs till its penultimate conclusion, leaving us with nothing more than a pretentious underpinning, longing for something a little bit more in scope and heart.

Just as we begin to nod off, conflict is introduced, in the likes of three townies that live and reside in the caravan park. The first attack is on Keith and the second one targets James. The conflict is quickly resolved but there is a sense that maybe, the primary conflict of the film, will see itself out through the eyes of this harangue of a father-son story.

We approach the mid-point as the lawyer handling the case of the will, appears to the Langleys with a letter for each of them, addressing their discontent with one another whilst the score heightens the impact of a small montage of images that flurry by to afford us that tiny bit of heart.

The keys to every scene lay in the terse language and overly-clipped dialogue, as if attempting to recreate life on screen, and in doing so the film succeeds in varying degrees. Father and son seem to be getting on now, and there is a new agenda that leads us on this fairy tale ride, set in an urban locale.

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A heartfelt film, but only as the clichés are rendered subservient to the plot. An interesting twist, compared to other films of the like, inform us of actors that are as encompassing as they are earthly. Key performances starring Shirley Henderson and Karen Hassan, and featuring the break-out performances of Mark Sheals and Darren Connolly only affirm the statement.

The Caravan is a British cinematic enchantment at its most personal. Two stoic men damage the road they are to walk, setting up the brutally honest examination of the redemptive power of love, personified in the voice and monologue of Georgina Langley. The film’s only downfall is that its attempt at honesty falls flat in façade of the genre itself. If only there was more, in recent memory, to compare it to.

The Caravan is available on digital download from March 16th

Jonathan Lim