Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Jehovah’s Witness-turned-filmmaker Daniel Kokotajlo has delivered a knockout debut about the insidiousness of blind faith.

British director Daniel Kokotajlo’s gripping, thorny debut film tackles religious fundamentalism through the lens of an all-female Jehovah’s Witness family. Living in Oldham, single mum Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran) and her two young daughters, Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright), are devout, attending services and going door-to-door to spread the word. However, an act of transgression against their faith’s oppressive rules raises the stakes to dramatic levels. The church’s elders insist on total commitment or expulsion from the community.

Kokotajlo draws on his own experiences as a former Witness to bring intelligence and nuance to the story. His characters are never lambasted for their beliefs, but neither do they go unquestioned. It is a quietly brilliant work that balances the conflicts of three women, and the trio of actresses playing them give stunning performances.

The drama moves through the stark interiors of their Kingdom Hall, the family’s terraced house and drab office spaces. The stifling atmosphere echoes the community’s oppressive systems. Close-ups draw us in on moments of silent anguish with an almost voyeuristic intimacy.

For all his craft, Kokotajlo’s greatest triumph is in portraying a community of fundamentalists with such compassion, shining a light on rarely explored subject matter in a way that never feels exploitative. This is a standout British drama that pointedly asks us to question the strictures of institutionalised religion. 

By: Joseph Walsh



Release details

Release date:
Friday July 27 2018
95 mins

Cast and crew

Daniel Kokotajlo
Daniel Kokotajlo
Siobhan Finneran
Sacha Parkinson
Robert Emms

Users say (3)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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2 people listening

This tells the story of a family (mother & two daughters) who damaged beyond repair by Religious conflicts.

Although the story specifically concerns the Jehovah Witnesses faith, much of the drama could have been played out within other faiths. 

This is an excellent film, full of pain and conflict. All the performances ring true, with Siobham Finneran giving a very powerful and believable performance.


Suffering for her religion is an all-consuming passion for Ivanna.  It over-rides any love or compassion for her 2 daughters and is quite shocking in its stifling influence on any normal human emotion.  Of course (one hopes) the scenes played out in this quite brilliant film are at the extreme end of Jehovah Witness followers. Some scenes left me frustrated, incredulous and wanting to shout at the screen.  It is an interesting insight into a world few of us see and all performances sensitively and beautifully portrayed.

An incredible film shedding light on the rarely seen internal workings of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The attention to detail of Daniel, the crew and cast gives you probably the closest idea of what being a Witness is really like that you are ever going to get bar becoming involved with them yourself and finding out about their shunning policies and so much more when you're already emotionally invested. An honest yet delicately handled portrayal of very emotive situations.