This debut feature from British playwright Debbie Tucker Green is a family drama shaded with mystery and driven by confident, searching writing.
It’s a close portrait of a recognisable London family, with Jax (Nadine Marshall) working behind a customer-services desk for the local benefits service, her husband Mark (Idris Elba) doing long shifts on the railways and their 11-year-old son JJ (Kai Francis Lewis) negotiating school and growing up. But, among the details of family and work life, all presented in an elusive, time-hopping style, Tucker Green explores something stranger: it turns out that Jax is pregnant, and it’s a cause of great tension, even agony, as it’s unclear who, if anyone, could be the father.
It’s rare to see middle-class black British characters on the big screen, or any screen, and that’s a pleasure in itself. But ‘Second Coming’ has an unfamiliar flavour all of its own. Individual scenes have a piercing ring of truth, and Tucker Green is unafraid to serve us fragments of real life, demanding that we piece them together ourselves, rather than telling us what to think.
She also leaves her story’s meaning in our hands. Are we witnessing a miracle unfolding and rubbing against the pressures of everyday life? Something like Dreyer’s ‘Ordet’ in south London? Or are the film’s mysteries no more mysterious than any of our lives, out of rational grasp even to those living them? ‘Second Coming’ is sometimes confusing, but always compelling and often powerful