CORDELIA: ‘Hunter… hunter? Or is it the hunted…. Or haunted?’
One twin, Cordelia has unfortunately suffered a trauma. The other, Caroline has not. Caroline is stable, and tries to support her sister. However, both are rather self-absorbed, which doesn’t make it easy. Caroline goes away for the week end, and the neurosis ridden Cordelia has to fend for herself, and even though she’s clearly very anxious, swears she’ll be fine. And that’s where what might have been an interesting study of how one twin can go mad while another stays sane, makes its first detour from audience expectations. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but CORDELIA, continues to jump about with expectations, and because of this, relating or engaging with the central character could be rather tricky for some.
Also, Cordelia’s character, although well drawn, and earnestly played by Antonia Cambell-Hughes, is selfish, quite hard edged, neurotic, and generally unlikable. OK for a straight horror film, as often these types of characters are compelling, and we can empathize with them, but CORDELIA, is not really that either. The film sits somewhere between ghost story, psychological thriller and drama, and although down right weird and creepy at times, it often sacrifices substance for style or a trope. Alas, the audience is left wondering why, which can be interesting depending on your point of view.
So, if mysteries and nests of plot points interest, then this is a good choice, and it is certainly a film to debate about after viewing. Posing far more questions than it answers and chasing off down several paths to do with guilt, grief and cruelty, and well as madness, the ‘why’ is the biggest question for Cordelia the character, and the film. Although, interestingly at times, CORDELIA almost feels like a set-up, a ‘prequel’ to series of films about crazy women. However, there is nothing crazy about the direction by Adrian Shergold, which is strong, experienced and clear.
What is also defined and works very well in the film is the strong cinematography, which is shot on 35mm. Clear, interesting lens choices and framing, by upcoming director of photography, Tony Slater Ling, give the film a coherence which helps, and point to strong collaboration with Adrian Shergold. Ling’s rather soft, filmic style throughout, knocks off the hard edges and helps the story.
The colouring is also a huge compliment to all that modern digital processes can provide for film. It lusciously compliments the slightly decayed, retro-style sets and gives atmosphere to the film. At 1 hour 28 minutes long is also the ideal warm up to a block-buster night in. So turn the lights down, pour yourself a glass of wine and see what you make of CORDELIA.
CORDELIA is in UK Cinemas from 23rd October 2020.
Jane Alexandra Foster