Review: Cycles

Written and directed by Oscar Wenman-Hyde, co-written by Cameron Fox, an apprehensive young man moves into university halls, and the sudden feeling of isolation forces him into an argument with his older brother about identity, love, and the repression of dreams. Starring: Henry Wilson and Henry Fisk.

Most people can probably relate to the desire to have a genuine, open conversation with a relative, to air your grievances and move on. Cycles revolves entirely around that idea, one brother finally finding a moment alone with the other to resolve their issues before entering a new phase of his life. Right from the opening you can feel the lingering emotions in the air, you may not know what they are but the hint at tension is there. The choice to set it while the younger brother is moving into university shows some creativity but also practicality. The timing works but so does the then need for minimal location, decoration and camera set-up, it’s a nicely logical choice.

The result of that is then allowing director Oscar Wenman-Hyde to work with a simple yet effective directorial style. It’s a dialogue heavy film, keeping it simple lets the focus hold strong on the performances but he also keeps things moving forward with a few different variations of angles and framing. Considering the room where the majority of the film takes place is rather small, it never feels claustrophobic, it uses the space well and again, changes things up now and again to keep it moving. However, the story does have an inherent repetition to it, meaning the direction can only do so much when the progression is being slowed down by the writing.

Wenman-Hyde and Fox’s writing takes on a theatrical patter, it feels more written for the stage than film, reminiscent of the style of one-act plays. While it does have its value, it loses a lot of natural tone and a more relatable style of conversation. The confrontation between the brothers feels too formulated and structured, their responses are overly polished and miss out on more raw reactions. It can also be somewhat clumsy with a few lines that don’t fit and it’s attempt to deal with the topic of coming out doesn’t feel entirely healthy, leaning towards pushing rather than encouraging. Wilson and Fisk give solid performances and have a good chemistry but the latter can be slightly over sentimental at times, feeling softer than Wilson’s portrayal.

Cycles has a theatrical, classic feel, playing it simple and dramatic. The direction is scaled back and used for emphasis, but it’s fighting against a story that feels too structured. For a heated argument between two young men, the dialogue is too practised, it limits the emotion of the scenes by not feeling entirely grounded or real. The concept is a good one, it’s easy to sympathise with the different topics but the execution needed to walk back into the everyday, to find something more raw and relatable.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

Available now on Amazon Prime Video & coming to Digital 28 February

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