Magazine article Screen International

'The Escape': Toronto Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Escape': Toronto Review

Article excerpt

Gemma Arterton shines in Dominic Savage’s portrait of a crumbling marriage

The Escape

Dir/scr: Dominic Savage. UK. 2017. 101 mins.

A woman is slowly crushed under the weight of a life that she is no longer sure she wants in Dominic Savage’s study of a disintegrating marriage. Gemma Arterton walks the line between self-possession and self-harm in the central role of a woman who, for much of the film, isn’t dignified with a christian name - she’s ‘babe’, ‘mummy’ or, on one occasion, ‘stupid mummy’. It’s only when her quiet desperation boils over into action that we finally learn she is called Tara.

Gemma Arterton flexes dramatic muscles which lighter roles have hitherto concealed

Savage’s success at getting under the skin of the kind of cancerous depression which gnaws away at the soul means that this is not always the easiest watch. There are no audience-appeasing neat happy endings, just raw emotional wounds and aching compromises. But, despite a low key approach, this is a compelling, sometimes wrenching drama.

Arterton flexes dramatic muscles which lighter roles have hitherto concealed, while Dominic Cooper is well cast as the handsome, shallow husband who can barely comprehend, let alone articulate, the anguish that is taking the shine off his trophy wife. Both stars will be key selling points for a film which should not lack festival interest after its premiere as a Special Presentation at Toronto. The downbeat material notwithstanding, this is likely to connect with the kind of emotionally mature arthouse audience which can accept the fact that The Escape is anything but escapist.

Arterton brings a guarded physicality to her performance. Going through the domestic motions as stay at home mother to two children and wife to Mark (Cooper), she carries her shoulders stiffly, her face a neutral mask. …

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