Zebra Girl – Film Review

Zebra Girl – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire

It is said that you can judge someone’s suitability as a partner by the way they treat the waiting staff in a restaurant on a first date.  In this case, the handsome male love interest Dan (Tom Cullen), who is also academically gifted (if not great at emotional assessment), is so smitten with his date that nothing she says or does seems to cause alarms or raise a red flag!  And Catherine (Sarah Roy) tells him a lot for a first date, enough to make others run a mile.  Dan becomes enmeshed in a relationship with one very troubled individual, who is incapable of trusting or loving anyone!

In this tight, psychological thriller (not without moments of dark, gory humour), we are swept along as the protagonist and her long time friend Anita (Jade Anouka), address the crisis that confronts them.  As they reminisce, and through flashbacks to earlier years, we piece together the cause and source of the ongoing trauma, the evolution of their friendship and how unresolved childhood issues can spill over into adulthood.  The narrative flow is not smooth but this in itself is intentional, highlighting the main protagonist’s addled mind and thoughts, and her essentially dysfunctional state.  All of this is aided and abetted by an edgy score and camera work, which also reflects her mental and emotional state.  Inevitably harrowing, we are in the same setting as classics such as Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973).  A country idyll along with middle-class affluence and the fabled dream home and marriage can often harbour darker realities and trouble.

Essentially a two-hander, with others filling out the narrative, we are confronted with the shared sense of panic, sympathising with the protagonists on the one hand (what are they going to do) while at the same time rather pitying the partner who has paid the price for that difficult first date.  Even if you are not quite on the edge of your seat, it is nonetheless a capable thriller and that keeps your attention right to the bitter end.

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