Friday, May 26, 2023

Wait For Me – brooding tale of taking back control amidst vice and abuse (Queen’s Film Theatre, Q&A on Saturday 27 May, screenings 2-8 June)

It’s grim up north, particularly if you’re trapped in a world of vice and trafficking. Alison works in a brothel in Yorkshire, having moved over when her father (played by Sean McGinley) fled Ireland. Karen Hassan portrays a steely young woman who blows hot and cold faster than a spring afternoon in County Antrim, but seizes a chance to take back control and try to make amends for the various dependencies that have had a negative impact on her family.

Her unlikely accomplice is Sam (Aaron Cobham), an almost silent, vulnerable young man, who lives with a feeling of guilt that he has let down his closest friend. Always nervous, hesitant and lacking confidence, his eyes light up and his soul shines when he’s holding a stills camera and capturing other people’s spirit on film. If everyone’s on edge and scared to death, it’s because the crime boss played by Neil Bell is just as evil as his henchman Barry (Theo Ogundipe) is menacing.

Director Keith Farrell shapes Wait For Me into a brooding feature which never rushes to reveal the next twist in the lives and connected relationships of the characters. Aside from depicting the harsh environment in which trafficked women and men live and ‘work’, the screenplay riffs off the theme that everyone could do with a decent, loving parent.

Bernard O’Toole’s story is strong, the pared back dialogue is fitting, and Hassan’s gritty performance is mesmerising. If only the film hadn’t been littered with so many visually tedious rack focus shots (using a shallow depth of field and adjusting the sharpness from one character to another and back) which distract from the already well-framed, well-written and well-acted scenes.

Wait For Me will be screened in the Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 2 until Thursday 8 June. There’s an early screening on Saturday 27 May followed by a Q&A with actor Karen Hassan, director Keith Farrell, and producer Thea Burrows.


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