Wreckers - Review | News | BBC Sherlock | Sherlockology Sherlockabilia Shop Now Open

Wreckers - Review * 23 October 2011


A complex and labyrinthine film, Dictynna Hood's 'Wreckers' is the very opposite of a gentle cinematic journey, its initial appearance of a romantic melodrama twisting itself instead into something closer to an underplayed psychological horror.

Married couple Dawn (Claire Foy) and David (Benedict Cumberbatch) are a picturesque couple enjoying a seemingly idyllic lifestyle. Renovating a house, trying for their first baby, keeping chickens… but there is an undercurrent of foreboding almost from the very moment of the arrival of David's brother Nick, on leave from the army after a six year absence from home. Dawn initially finds herself drawn to Nick, but as she does, uncomfortable and unexpected revelations about her husband begin to emerge, and from there the perfect life they have built begins to unravel.

From the outset, Dawn is the clear protagonist, and we follow her experiences and discoveries throughout. Unusually, we are allowed no further knowledge into what is going on around her than she is. Instead we are privy to the uncomfortable looks and unspoken tensions between David and Nick behind Dawn's back, heightening our unease. We are given no further understanding of the brother's relationship and the reasoning behind their feelings, and as the film proceeds we start to develop a real fear for Dawn's safety, or perhaps even her sanity. She is continually pushed further and further into the tangled and murky past of the brothers lives, unable to be proactive in events as they unfold, and coming to the conclusion early on that she does not 'know' her husband at all, particularly when his brother remarks about his violent nature.


This is most certainly an actor's film and the entire cast is played perfectly. Claire Foy has just the right balance of sweetness and innocence, yet manages to invest Dawn with the essence of a real person, while Shaun Evans successfully imbues Nick with a realistic degree of volatility. Despite that, several of his scenes in the film are both harrowing and draw real sympathy from the audience.

Benedict's portrayal of David is quite a departure from any of his previous roles. At the start of the film, we are drawn to trust him as Dawn does, and as a result the revelations through the narrative become all the more dramatic because of it. Although this film is tightly locked to Dawn's point of view, it is the brothers who are the centrepiece, their relationship fluctuating between very mellow, loving, and caring to spontaneous bouts of violence and intense psychological mind games against one another that in turn impact hugely upon Dawn.


Visually, 'Wreckers' is a beautiful film, with much of the imagery at times reminiscent of a Terence Malick piece. There are visual metaphors throughout, most strikingly the recurring image of butterflies and moths fluttering against window panes, able to see the world, but unable to escape into it - in effect, expressing the growing desires of Dawn as her once perfect world begins to fray around her. Also important is the sound design, or rather lack of it, rendering Wreckers deafeningly quiet at times and giving it an oppressive atmosphere that is only punctuated by bursts of sudden and jarring music that are notable for their interruption of the carefully cultivated stillness.  Thanks to all these elements, the film is lent a genuine sense of foreboding that is ultimately left unfulfilled by the close.

That is not to say 'Wreckers' is a bad film, or indeed a cop out. It is very much a narrative driven character piece designed to play completely against the expectations of an audience, refusing to be pinned into simple genre stereotypes. It changes direction many times, continually wrong footing us and ultimately ending up in an unexpected, subdued place that is very different from where we started. As a display of excellent performances, artful and tight direction, and genre defying narrative, it is an unusual and challenging piece of film making that comes very highly recommended.