I recommend you watch today’s film at your earliest convenience. Given the subject matter though, it’s probably best if you don’t follow my example of watching it with a persistent cough. Might be unnerving for your companions. I’m just saying.
Dead Calm in a cottage.
Husband and wife, Martin and Kate, are staying in an isolated holiday cottage on an otherwise uninhabited island off the coast of Scotland. Out of the blue one day, an injured stranger shows up. He tells Martin and Kate that he is a soldier, and he is there to warn them about a respiratory disease that has swept the globe, killing everyone it infects. With no way to contact the outside world, Kate and Martin must decide for themselves if they can trust him or if they are being held captive for a more sinister purpose.
Debut writer/director Carl Tibbetts has pulled this story together from numerous inspirations and come up with something that can’t really be considered entirely new, but can be considered impressively suspenseful, thanks in no small part to his central cast of Thandie Newton and Cillian Murphy as Kate and Martin, with Jamie Bell as Jack, the soldier. Newton and Murphy are very good (as usual) as the young couple trying to deal with a tragedy, but the movie belongs to Bell as the hard-eyed and possibly psychotic interloper; Kate and Martin’s own personal unreliable narrator.
The film opens with some fantastic scenery porn setting up the location of this little crag of nothing in the Western Isles, and while it is beautiful it is also desolate; Tibbetts setting up his theme of isolation right from the very first frame. Retreat is Tibbetts’ only credit to date but he is off like a shot. He handles the actors very well and the story is paced just right, and at only 90 minutes there is very little extraneous fat especially once Jack arrives.
Retreat had a limited theatrical release in October 2011; so limited that I wasn’t even aware of it, I’m sorry to say. This is the kind of movie we should be supporting. It’s a genre film, yes, but one with intelligence, style and something to say about the nature of truth and relationships. It’s on Netflix and Lovefilm Instant in the UK now, and is no doubt available wherever else you may be.