Silent Night – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Camille Griffin
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Roman Griffin Davis, Annabelle Wallis, Lily-Rose Depp, Sope Dirisu, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lucy Punch, Rufus Jones
In cinemas December 3rd
If the title of this movie conveys images of a sweet Christmas story you’d be half right. Knightley and Goode play married couple Nell and Simon who have a picture-perfect family with their three children. They invite a group of friends over to celebrate the festive season. However, it is set to be their last one ever as it is also the eve of an environmental apocalypse.
The dinner is actually the last supper and everyone in attendance intends to use a government-issued pill to take their own life that night rather than die a slow agonising death caused by toxic twisters which are making their way across the country.
It is impossible not to see how the pandemic has influenced writer/director Griffin. There are plenty of political references and questioning of world chaos. But overall, these ideas are subtly woven throughout. She also doesn’t hit us with the enormity of the situation right away. Instead, there are clues that all is not right before the gravity of the situation is revealed. She really lets the story breathe and focuses very much on the characters reactions to their imminent demise.
Howell-Baptiste and Punch inject humour into the proceedings as lesbian couple Alex and Bella, who continue to party like it’s 1999 while quietly dreading what is to come. Griffin Davis is brilliant as Art, Nell and Simon’s oldest son and the only one who tries to question what is actually going on. Goode is fantastic as Simon who is trying to hold it together for his family but has glimmers of terror and frustration. Overall, this is a wonderful ensemble cast.
Mainly filmed in a country house this adds to the claustrophobia of the situation they find themselves in. And a twist ending that you can see coming is no less shocking because of the telegraphing and will instil terror in all parents watching.
At 92 minutes Griffin resists the temptation to wring every last drop of emotion out of the story, which ensures that it never lags. The pacing works really well, and the tension builds beautifully. This is a strong directorial debut from Griffin and the kind of story that will make you count your blessings and promote debate about what you’d do in a similar situation. Far more enjoyable than the premise suggests, this deserves to find an audience.