The story is about Margaret, a successful businesswoman, single mother apparently in control of her neat life. Everything in place and daughter Abbie almost 18 and about to head off to university. We observe the normal light friction between generations as mum and daughter spar about value-bases and expectations.
Then, one day, out of the blue, Margaret is in a lecture and she sees a man sat across the room and flees the scene in a panic, hyperventilating. Shortly after she's out shopping with Abbie and he's there in the store. She goes to the park and he's there, sat on a bench. We start to see the panic in Margaret rise, each time she sees him and her in-control life starts to fray at the edges before coming apart at the seams.
Turns out that the man, David, is someone that she'd had a relationship with when she was 18, 20-odd years before. We are presented with some further information, as told by her, about how he abused and controlled her back in the day - culminating in them having a male child who didn't survive the situation. I shall say no more!
What we see from hereon in is Margaret's life descending into chaos. We're not terribly sure how much of it is real and how much in her mind. David only appears generally with her in closed situations, leading us to wonder if actually he's there or not. He starts to attempt to control her again, but this time she's stronger. Until he plays his trump card which she seems powerless to rise above. Very difficult to continue with this narrative without giving away plot spoilers, so I'll stop and leave you to watch it for yourself, decide what you think is going on and look forward to the jaw-dropping and gripping finale.
Rebecca Hall (Transcendence, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Town) is Margaret and plays the part quite brilliantly. I can't fault her performance, convincing at every turn demonstrating with depth the feelings, emotions and trauma that the character is going through. It's a masterclass. Tim Roth (The Hateful Eight, Reservoir Dogs) plays David and he's not far behind. Sinister, creepy and nasty-looking, but it's Hall who steals the show.
There's a great supporting performance from Grace Kaufman (The Sky is Everywhere) who plays Abbie and also a deserved shout-out for Angela Wong Carbone (Doublespeak) who very nicely plays an intern at the office who Margaret is helping with a domestic abuse situation of her own, in the early stages of the film.
The film is edge-of-the-seat stuff often, tense and nervy and never gives up until the very last frame. It's shot really nicely with thoughtful visuals reflecting the mood of the characters and what's going on at any given time. The sound is worth a mention too as it adds to the atmosphere, particularly when we get the 'all-silent but for a deep pulse' heartbeat pounding in the background, the beat of tension.
It really is very well put together and certainly has a message to tell about how people treat each other, the long-term impact of that on lives, how people cope with their trauma and how that may (or may not) spill over into lack of control and even mental health problems. There is space left here for the viewer to decide for themselves on some of the outcomes and proceedings, but that's it - I've said too much already! Check it out.