Directed by Tara Fitzgerald, better known for her roles in Brassed Off and Game of Thrones or you may recognise her from her recent appearance in the mini-series The ABC Murders. Written by Chiara Menage, based on the short story ‘Trial by Combat’ by Shirley Jackson, who also wrote the novel that recent Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House was based on. Nothing Important is the chilling tale of one woman’s efforts to steal her life back from her lonely female neighbour, with Rachael Stirling and Linda Marlowe. To add further to the intrigue, this film is triple F-Rated and most recently won ‘Best UK Narrative Short’ at the New Renaissance Film Festival, London.
The deafening silence that the film opens with is more than enough to tell you that something sinister is afoot here, not a word needs to be uttered for you to be wary of what’s in store. As Rachael Stirling’s Emily slowly walks back to her flat, heavily pregnant and downcast, you can tell that she’s feeling in a vulnerable state, reacting to the slightest noise or creak of a floorboard and her facial expressions telling that there’s something weighing on her. Given Stirling’s typically glamorous looks in her previous roles, it’s interesting to see her taking on a character that’s more average expectant mother and less charismatic code breaker. There’s not much to learn about Emily but the lone photo of her military bound husband and the sparse yet overly neat décor gives you enough to get a handle on the character. However, many of you might choose to judge the choice to continue to smoke while she’s pregnant, try to ignore that.
Costume choices and set decoration almost make it feel as though Emily could be living in any year, whether it be 1959 or 2019, which has a fascinating effect on the rest of the story. As Mrs. Allen (Marlowe) is introduced, it becomes even clearer that there’s an ominous air to the events of their building, she feels as though she’d be right at home next to Ruth Gordon’s Minnie in Rosemary’s Baby. That timelessness combined with the eerie presence of Mrs. Allen and the similarities of her flat to Emily’s, lead you to thoughts that they could even be the same woman, trapped indefinitely in the same house.
The direction and writing lead to a perfectly bleak and uncomfortable atmosphere, Fitzgerald wasn’t afraid to use a more muted hue to the visual which cements that ambience. It gives the impression that this could be the sort of place that once you enter, you might not be coming out, a Twilight Zone type spirit. Being only the director’s second project behind the camera, it has a strong tone and it knows what it should be, it isn’t meandering or lacking aim, and there’s some very nice shots throughout, making the most of their location choices.
Nothing Important is quiet and sinister with a downplayed but effective portrayal by Rachael Stirling and a creepy companion in Linda Marlowe. The tone, visual and acting all work very well together and it leaves you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps of what more may be going on.
Verdict: 7/10 | ✯✯✯
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