The Ones Below review: David Farr’s film debut is one of the best British psychological thrillers for years.
The Ones Below review by Paul Heath at the Berlin Film Festival, 2016. For the second time at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, following Michael Grandage with the brilliant Genius, a celebrated theatre director has m\de his feature film directorial debut. Here, David Farr, writer on the British spy drama Spooks, the upcoming The Night Manager and the Joe Wright film Hanna, takes on a psychological thriller with British film The Ones Below.
The Ones Below focuses in on a successful, happy, very middle-class couple Justin and Kate (Stephen Campbell Moore and Clémence Poésy), who live on quite well in the upstairs apartment of a big house in a trendy London borough. Kate is 18 weeks pregnant and she eagerly awaits the arrival of her new baby, as does Justin. They are equally excited about the arrival of two new neighbours in Jon and Theresa (David Morrissey and Finnish actress Laura Birn), who are about to move into the downstairs flat after the previous owner passes away. By coincidence the couple are also expecting a baby which instantly gives them something in common to break the ice. When an introductory dinner party goes horribly wrong, resulting in a terrible accident, the two couple descent into a world of jealousy, deception, paranoia and absolute terror.
I went into The Ones Below not knowing too much about the film, which is absolutely the best way to watch this movie, hence my avoidance in plot spoilers above. I’ll do my best to continue without any more.
Farr, a playwright and theatre director with quite the respected C.V., who also writes the screenplay to this twisty, intense, mind-bending fare, takes us on a cinematic journey that really grips you from the off, and then tightens that grip more and more as its terrifying plot unfolds.
Farr’s cast, limited really to just the four actors at the centre of film are all excellent, a firm stand-out being Birn’s bloody frightening, conniving Teresa. She plays part-delicate flower, part-witch, part ice-cold maiden in an exceptional performance that will have you sympathising with her one minute and then wanting her to jump in the canal the next. Then there’s David Morrissey who is equally as deserved of plaudits for his portrayal of the wealthy banker Jon. He portrays the character in a way where you can;t quite work him out, something that benefits the film’s twisty-turny plot. Stephen Campbell Moore and particularly Clémence Poésy are also really good in their roles, with French actress Poésy brilliantly playing the role of the shy, British wife and mother in Kate.
The cinematography from seasoned director of photography Ed Rutherford is also exceptional, as is the work of ’71 and Partisan editor Chris Wyatt, who work comes into its own as the film approaches its devastating climax.
Farr has delivered an excellent character and plot driven debut feature that is essentially Rosemary’s Baby meets The Hand That Rocks The Cradle by way of Hitchcock, with Laura Birn as his Tippi Hedren.
A rock-solid, frightening and truly gripping debut from the exciting new filmmaker that is David Farr. Seek this one out as soon as you can. One of the best British psychological thrillers for years.
The Ones Below review by Paul Heath at the Berlin Film Festival, 2016.
The Ones Below will be released in UK cinemas on 11th March, 2016.