There’s no doubting this is a slow film. It uses the silences and the awkward pauses in conversation as much as the dialogue in order to build a picture of a family, and how they relate to each other and to their friends and co-workers. The plot that gives the film its title and loosely threads through these interactions — that the mother Jax (Nadine Marshall) is pregnant to an unknown father — is never really at the forefront, but lurking somewhere behind it, at times threateningly (most forcefully when Idris Elba’s husband Mark realises he’s not the father), but at other times offering hope. This latter feeling is, after a fashion, what the film ends with, as it’s Jax’s history of miscarriage which is obliquely alluded to throughout as a sort of emotional trauma she’s been dealing with during her marriage, though she has one son, JJ (Kai Francis Lewis). It’s perhaps this background that informs Marshall’s quietly excellent central performance — though both her and Elba are acting fully within a naturalistic mode, mostly sharing time together in silence and without the grandstanding melodrama that the premise could easily lead to. In the slow pace and quiet naturalism of the dialogue, it can sometimes seem like a difficult film to love, but there’s plenty to admire in debbie tucker green’s film debut after many years as a playwright. Despite her background, there’s nothing stagy about the resulting film, except for the best qualities of that medium: a focus on well-drawn characters and subtle acting, both of which are on display here for audiences willing to invest the time and patience.
Director/Writer debbie tucker green; Cinematographer Urszula Pontikos; Starring Nadine Marshall, Idris Elba, Kai Francis Lewis; Length 105 minutes.
Seen at ICA, London, Tuesday 9 June 2015.