Review: Harold & Mary

Written and directed by Stephen Gallacher, Harold and Mary are in their fiftieth year of marriage, unfortunately the cracks in their relationship start to show as a disease takes hold of Harold and tests the very foundations of their love. Starring: Phyllis Logan, Dermot Crowley, Maddie Rice, Simon Manyonda, Gracy Goldman and Jordan Dawes.

There have been a growing number of films surrounding Dementia and Alzheimer’s in the past few years, with some stellar examples like The Father, Supernova and Still Alice, it’s an important subject and also a devastating one. The atmosphere of Harold & Mary quickly captures the frustration, sadness and helplessness of this story. Stephen Gallacher’s direction takes a close, personal and intimate style, giving the visual a sensitive or gentle feel while adding an edge of the haunting future that they face. The cinematography (by Gareth Munden) has a great sharpness and clarity, which is hugely beneficial to that mix of a delicate touch with harsh reality.

With stories of this nature, no matter how many of them you may have seen, they’re always going to hit hard. You wouldn’t wish the experience of this illness on your worst enemy, to either lose yourself and grip on reality, or have to watch your loved one painfully fade away while being powerless to help them. The progression and pacing make your heart ache with sympathy, even with or without it being based on a true story. However, that truth only deepens its impact, it’s already a poignant tale but to really ground it with that knowledge, makes it hit even harder. It’s a case of a story that moves in a fairly simple, family orientated way but holds such a larger depth of emotion, without really needing to say much at all.

Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey) and Dermot Crowley (Luther) are effortlessly strong leads, both of them bring exactly what’s needed to the table within seconds of being on screen. They easily provide that feel of an entrenched couple who’ve been through it all together, two pieces of one whole. That ease of chemistry is another element which helps the harshness to this story land even more effectively. Logan and Crowley give their characters their own personalities but at the same time make them wholly accessible, they feel as though they could be anyone, because it could happen to anyone.

Harold & Mary explores a shattering reality, with just a handful of minutes it strikes straight to the heart of this poignant issue and its audience. The visual is sharp and colourful while the direction adds a gentle, heartfelt style, and it handles this story in an intimate manner. Phyllis Logan and Dermot Crowley create a very sincere and relatable relationship, as well as skilfully capturing the layered emotions at work. It’s a heart-breaking story and one that will likely leave you sat in silence to take in its devastating truth.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

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