The feature debut of British filmmaker Jane Linfoot is promising if frustratingly enigmatic
After successful young architect Joe (Tom Hughes) has an unplanned kerbside encounter with destitute young prostitute Lily (Tasha Connor), he returns to his stunning Yorkshire home and his equally stunning wife Annabel (Ruta Gedmintas) riddled with guilt. Despite his best efforts, their lives keep crossing, until things come to a head in the eponymous incident.
For her feature debut, BAFTA-nominated short filmmaker Jane Linfoot delivers a narratively slight yet visually striking human drama that never quite lives up to its fascinating premise. Both story and characters are ethereal to the point of frustration, with no backstory or detail to bring any real context to the drama that unfolds.
As such, and while the performances are decent – Connor proving particularly compelling as the girl trapped on the wrong side of opportunity – motivations and behaviour range from the confusing to the plain implausible. The reactions of poised career woman Annabel, for example, become increasingly disproportionate as the film progresses, with her impending motherhood seemingly the only excuse.
Such an enigmatic approach is likely to be entirely intentional, making the point that we can never tell what goes on behind the closed doors of strangers' lives. It's augmented by some stunning cinematography from DP Pau Castejón. His camera remains a cool, detached observer, whether within the clean glossy lines of Joe and Annabel's woodland home, or in the grimy confines of the public toilet where Lily plies her trade. Together with the bare bones screenplay, it forces the viewer to make their own moral judgements.
This may be the raison d'être of The Incident, but it plays more like obvious social commentary about the ugly schism of the British class divide than a naturally engaging drama. Still, as the debut feature from an intriguing new filmmaker, it demonstrates plenty of promise.
Limited release from Fri 25 Nov.