Sleek and tightly constructed, this low-key British horror thriller worms its way under the skin to put us in what feels like an impossible situation. We may not be able to identify with everything the central character does, or each decision she makes, but we squirm at the thought of being in her shoes. And by keeping everything so understated and suggestive, filmmaker Steve Reeves manages to deliver several terrific jolts.
In London, corporate executive Charlotte (Maxine Peake) is having a seriously terrible day. After giving up her personal life for her job, she's bypassed for a big promotion that goes instead to Tom (Sam Hoare), whose wife (Tori Hart) has just had the baby Charlotte has always longed for. After drowning her frustration in alcohol, she goes home to find her surly cleaner Maya (Elisa Lasowski) smoking in her flat and trying to steal a bottle of champagne. But their confrontation takes a dark turn when Charlotte accidentally kills Maya. In a panic, she hides the body. But this only begins a series of major decisions Charlotte must make. She reaches out to her sister Sarah (Christine Bottomley) for help, but things begin to feel a lot more precarious when the smiley Roger (Blake Harrison) turns up.
The title refers to one of Charlotte's most important choices, which is something better discovered in the context of the story. Indeed, the entire movie seems to exist behind Peake's expressive eyes and stony face. She gives Charlotte an uncanny inner life, thinking through the ramifications of every startling twist as if it was part of a major corporate project. It's easy to see why she is so good at her job, although her intelligence also makes some of what she does feel rather contrived. But Peake's considerable screen presence makes it clear that Charlotte is the kind of woman who doesn't accept help from anyone and would rather do even the dirtiest work herself.
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After their men sneak off in the night to join the resistance, farm wives Sarah (Riseborough) and Maggie (Morgan) are left to do the work themselves. Soon a group of German soldiers arrives, led by Captain Albrecht (Wlaschiha), who takes an odd approach to his role as an occupying force. He decides to hide from the Gestapo in this valley, hopefully riding out the war while keeping his young officers (Ianevski, Doestch and Taubman) from battle. He also develops an uneasy friendship with Sarah.
Continue reading: Resistance Review
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