Martin Smith on the latest film from British filmmaker, Martin Radich.
Martin Radich is possibly the most original voice alive in British cinema.
The first time I saw his work I was near hysterical, pummelled by a mixture of hilarity and devastation. His work almost lives in a realm of its own, he’s a filmmaker who has formed his own screen language – rich character portraits drawn from a middle-world of unvarnished outsiders who experience life with the most savage intensity.
Confrontational characters who have the air or madness and unpredictability sit next to some of the most vulnerable humans seen on screen.
He found his voice whilst shooting an early documentary. When filming a sequence in a traditional way he became unsettled, there was something that troubled him, and after mulling the issue over lunch he returned to rearrange the whole way he approached filmmaking, allowing improvisation and sparks of life’s vital energy to filter into the process.
Since then, Radich’s work has had a unique stye that unsettles and provokes, with a wondrous, mind-bending quality. His latest film is his most ambitious to date.
Norfolk sees Radich step outside of the world populated by misfits and non-actors into using the heavyweight French talent Denis Ménochet (who rose to international prominence in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds) as Man and Barry Keoghan (one of our most exciting rising stars, recently seen in ’71) as Boy.
Father and son live in isolated existence in a never-can-be-sure world – are we in an apocalyptic future, a dream-world? We can never be sure, and the better for it.
“Let it wash over you” was the filmmaker’s advice at its UK Premiere last week at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The film is remarkable in its vision and form. Radich is incomparable. To suggest the film had echoes of other filmmakers living-or-dead is to do the work a disservice – the film is purely Radichian.
Norfolk is evidence of a filmmaker at the top of his game, singing to his own tune. Norfolk is a radical and remarkable piece of work that will stick long in the mind.