Puritan

Making the most of its modest budget, this ‘modern film noir with a teasing hint of the supernatural’ confidently takes on genre conventions and big ideas. Writer-director Hadi Hajaig’s clear storytelling and stately, composed images, draw us in with sly plot shifts and Gothic atmospherics. There are some rough edges – confusing scene transitions, dodgy sound-recording, a confusing hybrid feel – but Hajaig knows, respects and understands his ‘B’ films noir.

A morose drunk since his marriage breakdown, journalist Simon Puritan (Nick Moran) moonlights as a fake medium, consoling bereaved relatives with cosy lies. Introduced to the brittle, beautiful Anne Grey (Georgina Rylance) by her burn-scarred ‘husband’ Jonathan, Puritan reassures her about her dead sister, then seduces her with talk of a Fourth Dimension, where past, present and future are conflated, and everything that has ever happened to a person may now be happening again, all at once. Ignoring Jonathan’s warnings that Anne is a manipulative femme fatale, Puritan becomes embroiled in a heated affair, and in the death of Anne’s true husband, messianic business guru Eric Bridges (David Soul).

This crime story is intriguing, but Hajaig gradually ups the supernatural ante, an accumulation of tiny details hinting at a larger mystery. Puritan’s house was built after The Great Fire by seventeenth-century architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, whose London churches are alleged by some to be pagan temples. Notorious necromancer Aleister Crowley was a former tenant. Mixing its genres, the extended climax leaves Puritan straddling a fault-line in the time continuum, an elastic concept that stretches our credulity. Even so, Hajaig’s bold ideas and filmmaking skill hint at a bright future.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 10 2006
Duration: 96 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hadi Hajaig
Screenwriter: Hadi Hajaig
Cast: Nick Moran
Ralph Brown
David Soul
Georgina Rylance
Pete Hodge

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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