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The Uncertain Kingdom

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Uncertain Kingdom
Photograph: Verve Pictures

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The many sides of our cracked mirrorball of a nation are captured with grace and style in this collection of short films

A state-of-Brexit-Britain portmanteau film is exactly the kind of well-meaning project that could result in a lot of on-the-nose cringeworthiness. But ‘The Uncertain Kingdom’, a collection of 20 shorts made by 20 different filmmaking teams (each with a budget of £10,000), is a largely brilliant, subtle and multifaceted group of timely films.

Comprised of documentaries, fictional dramas, animations and a smattering of comedy (ten of the total 20 were shown at the press viewing), the collective aim of ‘The Uncertain Kingdom’ is to give a fair and unjudgmental hearing to the wildly different experiences of UK citizens, from second-generation immigrants in the South East connecting with their heritage through their names, to food bank users in a freezing, dilapidated Blackpool.

Highlights include Siân Docksey and Sophie King’s ‘Swan’, a funny slice of satire about an Englishman who voluntarily takes the ‘advanced citizenship test’ and, after passing with flying colours, is granted the honour of being turned into a stunning white swan. Equally, Paul Frankl’s fable-like story of a Bolivian mother trying to save her son’s life with the help of a mystical tree is a compelling bit of magic realism.

But the best are ‘Verisimilitude’ (written by Justin Edgar), in which the brilliant Ruth Madeley plays Bella, an actress and wheelchair user employed to tutor a pretentious, non-disabled actor who has to perform as a disabled character on screen, and Hope Dickson Leach’s ‘Strong is Better Than Angry’ about a female kickboxing group literally sucker punching the Tories. Lovely. 

Available on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and iTunes on Mon Jun 1.

Written by
Rosemary Waugh

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Monday 1 June 2020
  • Duration:235 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Jason Bradbury, Stroma Cairns, Hope Dickson Leach, Ellen Evans, Paul Frankl, Alison Hargreaves, Guy Jenkin, Sophie King, Iggy Ldn, Rebecca Lloyd-Evans, Lanre Malaolu, Runyararo Mapfumo, Lab Ky Mo, Leon Oldstrong, Ray Panthaki, David Proud, Carol Salter, Jason Wingard
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