‘Unrelated’ is the first feature from television director Joanna Hogg and is a surprising, sensitive and compelling study of upper middle-class mores and middle-age hang-ups. Hogg casts the unknown Kathryn Worth as Anna, a sad soul and old friend of solid Verena (Mary Roscoe), a no-nonsense home counties sort of lady who’s enjoying a break with her new husband, another male friend and their various teenage children. A hidden trauma is making Anna behave oddly: she drifts towards the kids and away from the adults, and is especially taken by Etonian Oakley (Tom Hiddleston), the oldest, whose maturity isn’t as developed as Anna’s behaviour implies.
The holiday setting offers a theatre in which Hogg plays out this intriguing study of a damaged woman whose surroundings and companions offer her few favours. It’s true that some of the acting and dialogue, at times awkwardly improvised, wanders from the precision shown elsewhere.
Also, Hogg is better at concealing than she is at revealing: the best moments are quiet and suggestive and a final, emotional unfurling of Anna’s crisis doesn’t offer the power or the satisfaction it should. Mostly, though, Hogg displays a welcome desire to draw on global film influences and ignore the unwritten rules of what British cinema should or should not seek to achieve, especially in the realm of films about the monied and unsympathetic.