Better Things

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
The ironies are always cruel and never comic in British writer-director Duane Hopkins’s striking debut, an austere, though empathetic, insightful and technically crisp slice of social realism. Intertwining a series of dead-end vignettes comprising teenage chemical dependents, a bickering elderly couple and a woman on her deathbed, Hopkins cannily juxtaposes the squandered promise of youth with the vulnerability of old age.

As a director, he certainly has a knack for camera movement and framing, often locating a gaunt poetry at the heart of the squalor while blanketing the drama in a woozy, quiet-loud-quiet sound design. There are some rough edges, most notably a total rejection of the potential for happiness which is relayed in the shady green and blue photography and the artificially lifeless intonation of dialogue, but there is more than enough here to be excited about. And while it reminds of Lynne Ramsay, Bruno Dumont and Harmony Korine’s ‘Gummo’, it also retains a tang of its own.

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