Directed by Brett Chapman and written by James Phillips, in a future Leeds, society is divided between loyalists of the powerful Queen Bear and radical followers of Galahad. Avalon is a young woman desperate not to take sides, but as civil war begins she must undertake a dangerous mission to rescue a precious relic from destruction. Starring: Riana Duce, John Poulter, Katie Eldred, Angus Imrie, Paul Brown, Pete Cuffe, Fe Uhuru, Carolyn Eden and John Hunter.
Blending a revolution with Medieval religious themes works extremely well, a war on religion is something that belongs in the Middle Ages. It’s a common aspect of dystopian futures to have a return to so-called traditional values; where racism, sexism and religious persecution run rampant and The Good Book takes that well in hand here. The choice to introduce this new future with talking heads of various citizens provides a very effective opening to the film, giving an air of desperation and fear but with a touch of hope. As it then moves onto its lead, played by newcomer Riana Duce, she portrays Avalon in such a way that you could see her leading many a teen television series, she has a sympathetic personality with the classic qualities of bravery and strength that are needed for a character on the brink of fighting back against oppression. There’s also great support work, mostly in the form of Angus Imrie (Fleabag, The Kid Who Would be King, Emma.), he gets the opportunity to display a range of his talents here and takes advantage of that, to the point that he may have the strongest performance of the film.
Something that massively stands out with this film is the production value, not only is it shot well, you can genuinely see the amount of effort that went into location choices, choreography and the number of extras taking part in the larger set pieces. It’s a very visible case of having written a good scene, with good direction and not letting it slip on the details, to really make it pop, it’s a sign of a great team to make everything work so well together to push the emphasis of their scenes. Particularly the location choices provide some fantastic visuals and add a hugely strong aesthetic to key moments in the film, it’s well thought through and that shows in the finished product. There’s a quality to the plot that feels reminiscent of Doctor Who’s ‘Rise of the Cybermen’, with military forces roaming the streets and an unexpected hero who refuses to bow down to a formidable enemy. While there certainly aren’t any robots in this story, it has a similar way of bringing in that bleak future without having to make too many changes, creating a clear difference by introducing a certain atmosphere rather than the tendency in film to simply throw in a lot of gadgets and glass walls.
It has a few surprises up its sleeve which speaks to the quality of the writing, it’s an engaging story, that’s believable and hits a lot of relevant topics such as censorship, fascism and as mentioned, religious persecution and prejudice. It also briefly touches upon the importance of the written word in an ever changing world which adds a meaningful note to the story. All of which is supported by a wonderful score that really taps into the emotions of each scene and reflects that in a satisfying way.
The Good Book brings a future that doesn’t feel too far removed from the world we live in, gives us a hero to root for and an enemy to defeat and a story you can really get behind. With its themes it hits notes that will undoubtedly resonate with audiences but does so in a more subtle and compelling way, avoiding any need for shock tactics or over the top dramatics. It’s well directed, written and shot, providing a great story with an impactful aesthetic.